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Full text of "A handbook of scientific and literary Bible difficulties; or, facts and suggestions helpful towards the solution of perplexing things in Sacred Scripture, being a second series of the "Handbook of Biblical difficulties.""

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A HANDBOOK 



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BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 



UNIFORM WITH 'SCIENTIFIC AND LITERARY 
BIBLE DIFFICULTIES.' 



NEW EDITION, tastefully printed in demy 8vo, and handsomely 
bound in cloth, price 75. 6d., post free. 

A HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES; 

OR, 

Uleasumable <Sxrlntixms of -perplexing things 
in (Sacrefc (Scripture. 

Edited by Rev. ROBERT TUCK, B.A. (Lond.), author 

of ' First Three Kings of Israel,' ' Age of the Great 

Patriarchs,' etc. 

The Handbook of Biblical Difficulties supplies a help 
which all intelligent and devout Bible readers have long felt 
the need of, viz., a manual which takes the various difficulties 
they meet with in reading the Word of God, and gives a 
reasonable solution of them in an intelligible manner, without 
evasion of that which is difficult, or which may seem contra- 
dictory. 

'. . . . It supplies a distinct and widely-felt want.' Christian 
Chronicle. 

' . . . . To those who have to teach, it will be found very 
useful. ' Ecclesiastical Gazette. 

( Those who are disturbed by perplexing things in sacred Scripture, 
or desire to be able to help others whose minds are so perplexed, may 
find assistance here.' Church Sunday School Magazine. 

' A very useful undertaking, carried out in a very creditable manner. 
The difficulties dealt with are real the lying spirit in the mouth of 
the prophets, the slaying of Sisera by Jael, the destruction of the 
Canaanites, and the like.' Church Bells. 



A HANDBOOK 



OF 



SCIENTIFIC AND LITERARY 

BIBLE DIFFICULTIES; 



OR, 



FACTS AND SUGGESTIONS HELPFUL TOWARDS 

THE SOLUTION OF PERPLEXING THINGS 

IN SACRED SCRIPTURE, BEING A 



SECOND SERIES 



EDITED BY 

ROBERT TUCK, B.A. (LoND.), 

AUTHOR OF 

'FIRST THREE KINGS OF ISRAEL,' 'AGE OF THE GREAT PATRIARCHS 
EDITOR OF 'HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES.' 



' Now we see through.* glasr, darkly.' or. PAUL. 



NEW YORK : 

THOMAS WHITTAKER, 

2 AND 3, BIBLE HOUSE. 

1891. 



CONTENTS. 



PAGE 

GENERAL PREFACE ...... I 

GENERAL INTRODUCTION . . . . .4 

1. THE BIBLE AS LITERATURE . . . -4 

2. RECENT VIEWS ON INSPIRATION . , .8 
INTRODUCTORY NOTES : 

PECULIARITIES OF SACRED HISTORY . . - I 5 
PECULIARITIES OF SACRED HISTORY, SUMMARY AND REVIEW 159 

HISTORY A SECONDARY FEATURE IN NEW TESTAMENT . 1 68 

PECULIARITIES OF BIBLICAL SCIENCE . . .231 

GENERAL NOTE ON HEBREW SCIENCE . . . 238 

GENERAL NOTE ON SCIENTIFIC FACT AND THEORY . .241 

UNCERTAINTIES IN BIBLE NUMBERS . . .401 

PROGRESSIVE REVELATION OF RELIGION . . . 417 

PECULIARITIES OF HEBREW AND GREEK WRITINGS . -477 

SECTION I. 
DIFFICULTIES RELATING TO ANCIENT HISTORY. 

OLD TESTAMENT . . . . . . 1 8 

NEW TESTAMENT . . . . . . 1 68 

SECTION II. 
DIFFICULTIES RELATING TO MATTERS OF SCIENCE. 

SUB-SECTIONS I 

1. DIFFICULTIES RELATED TO ASTRONOMY, ASTROLOGY, 

AND MAGIC ...... 243 

2. DIFFICULTIES RELATED TO MEDICAL SCIENCE . -277 

3. DIFFICULTIES RELATED TO GEOLOGY, GEOGRAPHY, AND 

TOPOGRAPHY ...... 305 

4. DIFFICULTIES RELATED TO NATURAL HISTORY . -337 

5. DIFFICULTIES RELATED TO ETHNOLOGY AND ARCHAEOLOGY 361 

6. DIFFICULTIES RELATED TO NUMBERS AND CHRONOLOGY 406 



I H 4 ~~ 



vi CONTENTS. 



SECTION III. 

DIFFICULTIES RELATING TO MATTERS OF RELIGION OR 
THEOLOGY. 

PAGE 

OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS . . . . -1 



SECTION IV. 

DIFFICULTIES RELATING TO THE USAGES OF LANGUAGE. 
OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS . . . . -477 



GENERAL PREFACE. 



THIS book is not presented to the reader as containing final judg- 
ments on any of the topics introduced in it. It contains only the 
material, more or less complete, for forming good judgments. A 
dogmatic tone is carefully avoided, and a suggestive tone is anxiously 
and constantly sought. The Editor's opinions are but contributions 
towards the consideration of a subject. It is not a controversial 
work, and it has no precisely-defined theories to uphold. Fairly, and 
without prejudice, the views of writers of very different schools are 
represented ; and even the effort to guide the reader to a final judg- 
ment is kept within careful restraint. 

The aim set before the Editor is a very simple one, but a practi- 
cally useful one. Fresh information relating to Bible subjects has 
largely accumulated during recent years, and new additions are being 
made every month. But this information comes to us in a variety of 
ways. It is often locked up in books that are only accessible to the 
learned : and the thousands of Bible readers, Bible students, and 
Bible teachers, have neither the time for research, nor the ability to 
select, from the mass of material at command, what may be of real 
value in the elucidation of Bible problems. The Editor has en- 
deavoured first to select special topics of interest to thoughtful Bible 
readers ; keeping in mind that a subject may interest one student, 
and altogether fail to interest another. Then he has endeavoured to 
quicken inquiry, and impel to research, by suggesting questions. 
And, finally, he has sought to provide, and set forth as succinctly as 
possible, what is known, and what is thought, in relation to the 
matter treated. 

This volume is the continuation and completion of a scheme, of 
which the first portion has been published under the title, ' A Hand- 
book of Biblical Difficulties.' The scheme proposed to deal, in a 
representative way, with all the classes of difficulties which an intelli- 

i 



2 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 



gent reader might; he expected to find in the Bible. The early 
volume was confined to the treatment of difficulties connected with 
moral questions, Eastern sentiments, and the miraculous element. 
This volume treats of the difficulties relating to History, Science, 
Ancient Religions, Language, and Doctrine. 

In treating so many Bible questions under the term ' Difficulties,' 
the Editor is conscious of an objection that may fairly be urged. It 
may be said, that it is not wise to produce the impression that there 
are so many difficulties in God's Word. The disposition to find 
excuse for not believing the Bible is strong enough without being 
encouraged by those who are the friends of the Bible. To that ob- 
jection it may be replied, (i) That it is necessary for us to follow 
closely on the heels of those who suggest that there are errors and 
mistakes in the Sacred Word. The Christian must be at least as 
quick and skilful in defence as the unbeliever is in attack ; and the 
Christian need never be afraid for the whole truth to be known. (2) 
The more of these so-called 'difficulties' we gather together, the less im- 
portance is seen to attach to our inability to explain any one of them; 
because we find out that they belong to classes, and then we can get 
principles of explanation that are quite satisfactory when applied to 
the class, though we may not be enabled to apply them to some one 
particular case. (3) Though the subjects introduced are called 
1 Difficulties,' the term is more correctly used of what men think and 
feel who read the Word, than of the Word itself. The difficulties 
may be, in part, due to the incompleteness of the record, which so 
seldom tells us all we want to know ; but they are chiefly due to the 
insufficiency, or the incorrectness, of our knowledge, and to the blind- 
ing influence of our prejudices. These, so often, first put things into 
the Word for us, and then persuade us that the difficulties we find 
belong to the Word itself. 

In the former volume there was more of opinion than of fact. In 
this, by reason of the nature of the subjects treated, there must be 
more of fact than of opinion. But on no subject connected with 
Bible History, or Science, or Criticism, can it be affirmed that the 
* last word has been spoken.' The monuments, and the buried cities, 
are still yielding the materials for new judgments. Learned men are 
still applying, as skilfully as they may, the latest critical apparatus ; 
and all that can be attained by any of us, is a good, reasonable, work- 
able, but temporary, conclusion. That, however, is a sufficient basis 
of faith, and it should be a sufficient incentive to duty. 

Advanced students will find this work little more than a reminder 
of points of interest which they have met with in the course of their 



GENERAL PREFACE. 3 

researches. And those who wish to pursue further any topic that is 
introduced in this volume, will readily find the works of great 
thought-leaders in every department. 

One large class of probable readers the Editor has endeavoured 
constantly to keep in mind. The Teachers of Senior and Bible 
Classes require to be ready with an efficient answer to every inquiry 
that may be made by any member of their classes. The reception 
of the former volume by this particular class of readers has been very 
gratifying ; and it has made quite clear that these volumes will meet 
a distinctly recognised want, and materially aid our Senior Class 
Teachers in guiding intelligently the questioning, and often the half- 
sceptical thoughts, of the young people. 

The Editor has in no case set down anything that would imperil 
the sense of authority in God's Word. While endeavouring to keep 
abreast of all the latest information, he regards very many of the 
results of modern criticism as tentative ; and even thinks that some 
of the conclusions from monumental relics have been hastily drawn, 
and will come under revision. But he considers that nothing is 
gained by hiding from the general view all that is known, and all 
that is thought, in relation to the Word of God. The truest safety is 
found in the free ventilation of all subjects. Men's minds are 
variously constituted, and through the strife of opinion, the satisfac- 
tory settings of the truth may be won. Fear for the Word of God is 
a feeling which the Editor has never cherished. To gain the fuller, 
worthier, and wiser knowledge of the Word, and of all related to it, 
and of all that can throw light upon it, has been the great aim of his 
life, and the constant endeavour of long, hard-working years. 

May those who use this book find it as helpful in the confirmation 
of their faith, and in the enlargement of their Bible Knowledge, as 
the Editor has done who has compiled it ! Concerning the literature, 
and history, and science of God's most Holy Word, we may unite in 
saying 

' Let knowledge grow from more to more.' 



I 2 



GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



THE BIBLE AS LITERATURE. 

WE are now becoming familiar with the statement that our Bible 
has its place in the world's Literature. But many persons are yet 
unable to admit that it may be studied as one of the world's books, 
apart from its higher purpose, as the authorized revelation of the will 
of God, and the duties of man. There are multitudes who have 
studied it as the Sacred Book ; there will always be some who can 
find in it no more than one of the World's Classics ; an ordinary 
book of Ethics, and History, and Poetry, and Philosophy. But why 
may not those who regard the Bible as the inspired book of morals 
and religion, willingly learn all they can from those who study the 
Word from a strictly literary point of view ? If we say that it is litera- 
ture, and much more, we may surely be willing to learn all we can 
from those who are skilled in literature. Writers like Renan do not 
occupy our standpoint, nor can they see what we can see ; but we 
should be foolish indeed if we refused to learn all Renan, and similar 
authors, can teach us, so far as they can go. 

Dr. H. M. Thompson, Bishop of Mississippi, states in plain and 
significant terms the position which is now commending itself to in- 
telligent and educated persons. ' If God is to give a revelation of 
Divine knowledge to man, it must begin, being what man is, under 
limitations. It must be given in human speech. There is, therefore, 
the Divine Essence the revelation ; and the human clothing of the 
revelation human words. The Divine Essence is always the same. 
The human expression must necessarily vary. Also, the human ex- 
pression may be inadequate, or even erroneous.' 

Now the term literature, as applied to the Bible, concerns only the 
human form in which the Book comes to us. It is, we know, in a 
special and unique sense, a Book by itself; but it is also a Book taking 



GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 5 

rank among other books, the product of human minds ; composed 
according to the knowledge and literary skill of different times and 
national conditions. It may surely be subjected to examination 
according to ordinary literary rules. Why should we fear to submit 
it to such testings ? It has pleased God to employ human minds 
with their particular furniture of knowledge ; and we are only follow- 
ing along God's own line when we try to ascertain the limitations of 
human faculty, and the extent of human knowledge, as found in the 
Sacred Book. 

Our minds are often confused because the distinction between 
Revelation and Inspiration is not precisely drawn. 'The word 
Revelation stands for the Act of God in making truth known to men, 
and then, in a secondary sense, for the truth itself which is thus 
made known. Inspiration is the name of the special Divine influ- 
ence under which the writers of the Bible worked. We speak of the 
Revelation of God in the Bible, and of the Inspiration of the writers 
of the Bible. In order to understand the questions which have been 
raised on these two subjects, it is important that we should dis- 
criminate between them in thought, but in fact they are closely con- 
nected. It is the association of the two that gives its supreme value 
to the Bible. This is recognised as a book of unique character, 
because it is an inspired record of a Divine revelation? 

Without in any sense denying or limiting the inspiration of the 
Bible writers, we may recognise the further truth, that such Divine 
influence as may be called ' inspiration ' rests upon the readers of the 
record as truly as upon the writers of it. If God was pleased to 
speak to men through lives. He can speak to us through the records 
of lives as we read them. 

.Perhaps one greatest hindrance is found in the notion that prevails 
among us, that God is more present in what we regard as superhuman 
events than in what we regard as human ; more present in the extra- 
ordinary than in the ordinary; more present in miracle than in 
history. And yet this notion will be easily dispelled by careful 
thinking. The child-times of the world make much of wonders and 
portents. The manhood of the world finds God in daily life ; sees 
Him to be far greater when He gives to every living thing its meat 
in due season, than when, for a purpose, He satisfies 5,000 with five 
loaves. It would be wise for us to culture quickness of observation, 
so that we may see God in Nature, in Providence, in history, in life, 
and then this God-awakening attention, and illustrating Himself some- 
times^ in miracle and wonder. 

If we could fully accept the idea that our Bible is literature, we 



6 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

should be able readily to settle the difficulties that are connected 
with science. We should then see that literature can do no more 
than reflect the ideas of the age in which it is produced. We can 
see how strange, to us, would be the scientific setting of a thousand 
or two thousand years ago ; but we do not so readily see how strange, 
how ridiculous, to the people who lived two thousand years ago would 
have been books written in the scientific setting of this nineteenth 
century. How useless, how mischievous, how subversive of the 
Divine order, would have been Bible references to the earth going 
round the sun, to protoplasm, evolution, gas, or telephones ! Science 
means the knowledge of a material world which man's faculties enable 
him to gain, and it is necessarily a progressive thing ; its character- 
istics vary in different ages and climes. The most universally-received 
conclusions of to-day may be dispelled by the enlarged knowledge 
and keener criticism of to-morrow. 

What things, then, are in evidence concerning the literary character 
of the Old Testament ? In the appendix to a Teachers' Bible may 
be found these sentences : ' The Old Testament consists of the 
sacred literature of the Jews.' ' The Bible is a work of literature, 
not a manual of scientific theology.' We need not, then, be afraid 
to say that the Old Testament, from the Pentateuch or Hexateuch 
onwards, is simply the literature of the Jews ; sacred because the 
Jews were a sacred people, sacred because God was pleased to make 
that literature conserve the primary principles of natural religion for 
humanity, preserving them as the foundation on which the spiritual 
religion of Christ could be reared when the fulness of times had 
come. 

This volume is prepared with the prevailing idea that the whole 
world is God's ; science is God's ; history is God's ; philosophy is 
God's ; art is God's ; literature is God's ; the Bible is God's ; man is 
God's ; and every faculty and endowment of man's is God's. In 
place of finding God only in the Bible, we would find God there and 
everywhere ; and wherever He is, we are sure He will be supplement- 
ing or correcting men, setting men straight, sometimes leaving man to 
his free experiment, and sometimes helping him by revelations. 

We shall also take this view. What we call a man's errors may be 
but the limited range of knowledge of his age. If a man is true to 
his times God does not interfere with him, and give him the know- 
ledge which will be gained by men in some later time. A man can 
only serve his generation aright by being en rapport with it. Each 
age is a step ; from it the world gets power to step up higher. And 
it is quite enough if it be a true step at the time. We learn by seeing 



GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 7 

exactly what men thought, and felt, and knew, and did at each 
stage; we are helped by seeing how kin these Bible men and 
women were even to the moral sentiments of the ages in which they 
lived. 

It is true that, in the spheres of morals and religion, we find Divine 
corrections ; but they were only corrections within the limited spheres 
and capacities of the times in which they were given. No teacher 
would think of correcting the mistake of a boy by giving that boy 
the very highest knowledge that the teacher had himself gained. He 
corrects the boy by giving knowledge that is just beyond the boy's 
present attainment. In many things Moses carries on Arab and 
Egyptian notions and customs ; but God secures a higher tone and 
character for Moses' adaptations, raises such things, and makes them 
serve spiritual purposes. 

What, then, do we propose in this our treatment of literary and 
scientific Bible difficulties ? The constant and close relation of God 
to all the contents of the Bible will be jealously preserved. We shall 
reverently inquire, by a careful consideration of the facts, what God 
has been pleased to do, and how He has been pleased to do it. 
Common-sense is God's, and we shall bring it to bear on the Bible 
records, and on the solution of Bible difficulties ; and so we may 
hope to bring the Sacred Book into closer and more human relations 
with us. 

As confirming and illustrating our position, we give the following 
passage by Dr. R. Heber Newton, of America : 

* The Bible is a series of books, the extant national literature of 
the Jewsj the Apocrypha being included, and the literature of the 
Christian church in its creative epoch. As literature, these books 
are, most of them, noble, and worthy of immortality, and have been 
the chief sources of inspiration to the mental and moral life of Chris- 
tendom ; worthy to be called Sacred Books. 

' They are in a still deeper sense our Sacred Books as the literature 
of the people of religion, the race to whom God gave the unique 
mission of evolving ethical religion, whom He had endowed with a 
specialty for religion and trained by singular experiences for its 
normal development, and from whom, as an historical fact, has 
issued the one religion which may claim to have the future in its 
hands, the religion bodied in the Divine Man. 

' The literature of such a people forms plainly the classic books of 
religion, which are, as our fathers believed, the records of a real reve- 
lation, though that revelation lay in the historic and organic evolution 
of Israel's consciousness, the coming on of light into the race. These 



8 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

books are the works of a real, Divine inspiration, though that inspira- 
tion was wholly ethical and spiritual, and in nowise scientific or 
philosophic, and differs from other inspirations only in degree, not 
kind/ 

II. 
RECENT VIEWS ON INSPIRATION. 

The various theories of inspiration were fully treated in the intro- 
ductory note to the previous volume. Since then, decided advance 
has been made in the more liberal treatment of this subject. As 
characteristic utterances, we quote the following from a bishop of the 
American Episcopal Church : * The doctrine of a verbal inspiration 
was never that of the Church Catholic'; and this passage taken 
from the writings of Professor Elmslie : ' It is undoubtedly true that 
we possess no early Hebrew manuscripts ; that the ancient transla- 
tions depart in the most surprising fashion from the received Hebrew 
text ; that very many passages of the latter cannot be construed so 
as to give a reasonably likely sense ; that nearly all scholars admit in 
numerous passages the existence of uncertainty as to the actual 
original, or even the certain loss of what the inspired penman wrote. 
In a much less degree, the same things are true of the New Testa- 
ment manuscripts, versions, and text, as the unlearned reader may 
see in part by comparing the Authorized English Version with the 
text and margin of the Revised Version. On the other hand, it is 
confessed alike by believing and unbelieving scholars that all this, at 
first sight, formidable mass of uncertainty as to a few passages of 
moment, and innumerable verbal details, has not, in any appreciable 
degree, touched or modified the Scriptural basis on which rests our 
belief in the grand doctrines of evangelical faith.' 

We are now invited to deal with the question of Bible inspiration 
after a new method ; and we must candidly admit that the proposed 
new method is in every way wiser, safer, and more reasonable. 

The old and long-established method has been to decide first of 
all what the Bible is, and then treat it as being what we have before- 
hand decided that it is. 

The new method is to reserve all making of theories about the 
Bible until we have carefully and reverently examined and studied it ; 
and then, when the facts are fully before us, we may venture to form 
a decision as to what it is, and a theory about its inspiration. 

We shall have no difficulty in saying which is the more reasonable 
course, if the alternative be put before us in this form : Which is the 



GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 9 

wiser plan, to take a theory that men have made, and judge God's Book 
by the man-made theory, or to take God's Book just as He has given 
it to us, and only when we know it well venture to make a theory 
about it ? 

There is much in the Rev. R. F. Horton's recent book on * Inspi- 
ration and the Bible ' which we should have to criticise somewhat 
severely. We more especially object to the magnifying, and even 
creating, of difficulties and contradictions, through unwillingness to 
recognise common-sense and familiar explanations. In the treatment 
of a composite book, such as our Bible is, everything depends on the 
bias of mind with which it is approached, and it is at once truer and 
healthier to approach it with the expectation that its variations, and 
apparent contradictions, have some natural and simple solution. 

But the general position which Mr. Horton takes is that which is 
taken by reverent thought-leaders both in England, the Continent, 
and America ; and it will receive general acceptance from Christian 
people as they become familiarized with it. It is the modern form 
in which devout minds will apprehend the Inspiration of Holy Scrip- 
ture. It is subversive only of that particular form of the truth of 
Inspiration which is known as ' Verbal] and which can only be held 
in face of facts which abundantly disprove it, and are patent to every 
unprejudiced student. 

Mr. Horton says : * To the question, then, What is Inspiration ? 
we have to answer, Precisely that which the Bible is. But when once 
this simple truth is realized, and cleared from all the illusions of 
false ideas which have been the growth of centuries, we find the task 
which lies before us is, though arduous and long, yet full of hope and 
promise. Relieved from the incubus of a big falsity, we can turn 
joyfully to the discovery of the truth. To find out what is the con- 
tent of the term Inspiration, we must set to work earnestly and dili- 
gently to find out what the Bible actually is. Instead of being 
hampered in all our inquiries by a foregone conclusion, and fright- 
ened from a candid investigation of fact by the fear lest the fact 
should shatter our theory of Inspiration, we go to form our theory of 
Inspiration from an examination of the facts. To use the language 
of Logic, our inquiry becomes Inductive instead of Deductive ; it is 
Positive instead of Metaphysical. The time, then, to formulate a 
doctrine of Inspiration is when we have fairly and freely and fully 
investigated all that the Inspired Volume contains ; only then can we 
draw together the varied phenomena, and attempt to give an idea of 
the term, not merely by example, but by definition.' 

It is impossible to object to this way of presenting our duty in re- 



io HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

lation to the question of Inspiration. Nothing can honour the Bible 
more than to shake ourselves free from men's opinions about it, and 
consult it ourselves, and see what it has to say for itself. It is pre- 
cisely this work which this volume on * Bible Difficulties ' seeks to 
aid. It confidently offers guidance in some of the by-ways of Scrip- 
ture, in the assurance that its help will move some hindrances out of 
the way of an intelligent and reverent apprehension of the fact, that 
* no prophecy ever came by the will of man ; but men spake from 
God, being moved by the Holy Ghost.' 

As we have still to combat the rigid theory of ' Verbal Inspiration,' 
which has gained so firm a hold on the Christian mind, and still to 
try and replace it with the more Scriptural and truthful view, we may 
remind our readers of certain calm, judicious, and suggestive 
sentences, penned by the late Frederick Myers, M.A., of Keswick. 
'The more rigid Theory, which is more popularly received, and 
which holds that there is no separable human element in the Bible 
that its several books not only contain the Word of God, but are con- 
stituted of the Words of God, and of them alone, and that all, there- 
fore, is throughout of equal and supreme authority this is a belief 
which involves in it many difficulties and disadvantages. By dis- 
allowing any human element, or any condescending adaptation, we 
are deprived at once of much feeling of sympathy with the writers 
of the Bible as in such case they become but as mere Instruments 
rather than Agents of the Supreme and we are put out of harmony 
with what we think we see to be the condition of God's dealings in 
all other parts of His influence on man that we know of ; we find 
broken that chain of analogies which we appear able to trace 
throughout the varied economy of His educational processes ; and 
thus a preliminary difficulty the source of other consequent diffi- 
culties in detail almost innumerable is introduced, which, if gratui- 
tous, is certainly unwise. But not only this : we are henceforth ex- 
posed to attacks of criticism quite countless and endless : and our 
faith is ever liable to rude shocks, if not more, at each fresh difficulty 
which can be raised as to any sentence, or even word, throughout 
documents extending over a period of the ancient history of man for 
fifteen centuries and more. The Literalist depending much on par- 
ticular passages and on certain expressions being of one form and not 
of another, is in continual danger of having the large inferences which 
his system allows and even requires him to erect upon them brought 
to the ground by a progressive scholarship. The fearful anxieties 
which have been caused to those who maintained such opinions, 
even in our days, by the Progress of Science, ought not to be readily 



GENERAL INTRODUCTION. n 

forgotten by themselves, and will not be so by others : and though 
now gradually these are subsiding everywhere, they ought not to be 
allowed to do so wholly, without leaving us the lesson of the falli- 
bility of even the devoutest dogmatism. 

' And what have been historically the advantages of the more rigid 
Theory ? Has the result which has attended the assertion of it been 
such as to satisfy any thoughtful mind, or to gratify any religious 
one ? Has it prevented controversies ? or, rather, has it not given 
rise to them more abundantly ? Does it solve any of those great 
difficulties which have been common to all ages ? Has it not intro- 
duced new ones? Does it not rather ignore the anxieties of the 
most earnest, and contradict the acquisitions of the most enlight- 
ened ? Has it even secured to the most simply devout any theoretic 
unanimity ? or what result is there which it has accomplished which 
might not have been accomplished by a less rigid theory, and may not 
yet be ? Almost every difficulty which is presented by the less 
definite Theory is presented also by that which is the most so, and 
the history of Exposition testifies most clearly that there are very 
few who hold the strict theory, who are not compelled to make 
practical relaxations of exposition which impair the consistency of 
their principles, and who do not transfer to their Rules of Interpre- 
tation a licence which amounts to an equivalent for what elsewhere 
they are anxious to deny.' 

It is hardly possible to find what we regard as the true theory, or 
view, of the Inspiration of God's Word, more soberly, more con- 
cisely, or more satisfactorily stated than by Mr. Myers, toward the 
close of his Third Book of ' Catholic Thoughts.' 

4 Such persons are here assured by one who has studied the 
writings of both volumes of the Bible, long and often under various 
conditions of mind, and from points of view as wide asunder as 
possible for the same object to be retained in sight that he believes 
there is no moral truth more certain than that the Bible is as a whole 
generically different from all other books and that it has been 
given by the special Providence of God to be to men an indispens- 
able and sufficient Guide for them to the Knowledge and Love of 
Himself. The New Testament appears to him, after every fresh ex- 
amination of the criticism which has been brought against it, to be 
substantially a self-authenticating Revelation of God ; and the Old 
Testament, after the same, to be a Divinely-provided Introduction to 
the New truly prophesying and testifying of Christ, and being as a 
Schoolmaster to lead us unto Him. Some portions, indeed, of the 
Scriptures, when taken separately, may appear imperfect, but when 



12 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

carefully considered in their due relations, they will be seen to form 
the terms of a series which the Providence of God has surely super- 
intended. To one thus viewing them, there will eventually disclose 
itself a Unity of Plan and of Spirit pervading the whole Bible from 
Genesis to Revelations binding both volumes into one, and develop- 
ing a scheme which surely, yet naturally with continual apparent 
frustration indeed of immediate processes, but with certain progress 
towards the accomplishment of its ultimate aim proves itself Divine : 
for nothing can well be conceived more self-evidently under more 
than Mortal Governance than that which equably develops itself, 
and forms itself into one living and growing Whole, during a period 
which includes within it some fifty generations of mankind. Viewed 
as thus unfolding itself, with perpetual fresh increase of vitality for so 
long, and when ceasing to grow, giving birth to a Dispensation of 
things, the full significance of which we feel to be yet inexhaustible, 
the Bible cannot but appear, notwithstanding the fullest recognition 
of its human elements, a Book emphatically Divine such as there is 
not elsewhere on earth ; different not only in degree, but in kind 
from all others ; and one which, when rightly read, can do what none 
other can make men wise unto salvation.' 

Careful attention to these wise words should convince us that a 
full and reverent recognition of the Inspiration of God's Word is 
not in any way dependent on our acceptance of a hard and fast 
theory, which has never been more than the dogma of a school : 
never the belief of the Catholic and Universal Church. 

Such a Divine presidency over the formation of the Sacred Book, 
and such a Divine direction of all its contents to the securing of pre- 
determined moral and religious ends, as Mr. Myers thus devoutly 
recognises, we also admit, and commend to the serious consideration 
of our readers. With such an apprehension of Divine Inspiration 
they may reasonably be satisfied. Such Inspiration will be found 
underlying our treatment of the various perplexities of the Word in 
this book on ' Bible Difficulties. ' 

Henry Ward Beecher represents a somewhat different school of 
thought. He says that the ' Divine Revelation, interpreted by Evolu- 
tion, will free the Scriptures from fictitious pretensions made by men, 
from clouds of misconceptions, and give to us the Book as a clear, 
shining light, instead of an orb veiled by false claims and worn-out 
philosophies.' He thinks that the ' Bible has been held in captivity 
by an untrue and unwarranted theory of inspiration, which runs it 
against a thousand obstacles, and well-nigh leads the commentators 
into intellectual dishonesty. Men have ignored the actual method of 



GENERAL INTRODUCTION, 13 

its growth, by laying wrong emphasis upon its external structure, and, 
above all, making its exterior framework the historical mechanism 
of more importance than the thing that has been secured within the 
Scriptures by means of that mechanism. Much that may have been 
needful for the evolution and production of the Bible ceases to be 
needful for our faith in it, when it has been produced.' 

Mr. Wilson, of Clifton College, deals with the right Christian atti- 
tude towards definitions of Inspiration in a very striking way, in his 
volume of lectures. He begins by contrasting the extreme reticence 
not of one Christian Church only, but of nearly all the greater 
branches of the Christian Church, as to the true definition of Inspira- 
tion, with the desire of Secularists and Agnostics so to define it that 
they may confute the Christian revelation, as it were, out of its own 
mouth. He contrasts impressively the language of two different 
authorities on this question. One of these says, ' The purely organic 
(i.e., mechanical) theory of Inspiration rests on no Scriptural authority, 
and, if we except a few ambiguous metaphors, is supported by no 
historical testimony. It is at variance with the whole form and fashion 
of the Bible, and it is destructive of all that is holiest in man and 
highest in religion.' The other authority says, ' It will not do to say 
that it [the Bible] is not verbally inspired. If the words are not in- 
spired, what is ?' And then Mr. Wilson explains that the former 
authority, who protests so strongly against verbal inspiration as incon- 
sistent with historical testimony and fatal to what is highest in religion, 
is Canon Westcott, of Cambridge, one of the most learned of our 
living Biblical critics ; and that the latter authority, who is eager to 
tie the Bible down to verbal inspiration, is the well-known American 
Secularist, Colonel Robert Ingersoll, who really contends for verbal 
inspiration as the only intelligible kind of inspiration, in order that he 
may explode all inspiration altogether. ' Do you, then, ask me,' says 
Mr. Wilson, ' can I become a Christian without having first believed 
in the Divinely-guaranteed accuracy of the Bible ? A thousand times 
I answer, "Yes."' And then he proceeds, in a passage of great 
beauty and wisdom, to explain himself : ' The truth is, that the belief 
in inspiration is not the portal by which you enter the temple ; it is 
the atmosphere that you breathe when you have entered. You may 
become a Christian most men do become Christians from finding 
in the life and sayings and death of Jesus Christ something that 
touches them, something that finds them, something that is a revela- 
tion of Divine love to the human heart. Men find that there is some- 
thing in them dear and precious to God. And then love springs up 
in them, and a new life begins. They look out on the world with 



i 4 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

larger and more loving eyes. They see God in their brethren, God 
in Nature, and God in their Bibles. In their Bibles they read of the 
Christ whom they love. Those pages are filled with power that moves 
the soul ; never man spake as this man ; never book spake as this 
book. And this, and this only, is the theory of inspiration that 
Christians must needs possess. It is primarily an internal question 
among believers, not an external question with the world. It has 
little or no relation to the convictions which make and keep a man a 
Christian. It is not a question which I or anyone would care to talk 
about to one who is not already drawn to Christ. It is premature to 
talk with others of the exact limits of inspiration. Let them first read 
the Gospels, read them as they would read any other book, with any 
theory of inspiration or with none, with the one aim of learning the 
truth about Jesus Christ, of finding in the book what is pure, and 
noble, and elevating ; let them first learn to admire, to love, to copy, 
to serve Jesus Christ, and I care not what theory they may form of 
inspiration ; they will have got the thing, and then they will not be 
over-anxious to define it.' 

Bishop Goodwin says : ' Attention does not seem to have been 
duly given to the fact that the word Inspiration must, in the nature 
of things, be a word used to express a certain quality of a book, 
known upon other grounds to exist, and cannot rightly be regarded 
as a word from which, by a deductive process, the qualities of the 
book can be determined. A writer starts, for instance, with the 
principle that the Bible is inspired is the Word of God is the 
message of God to man or the like ; and from this principle under- 
takes to assert that certain propositions concerning it must be true. 
He says, for example, that it cannot contain any statements contrary 
to the truths of science, or that it cannot contain historical errors as 
to matters of fact, or that it cannot contain internal discrepancies. 
Now, I do not say that any one of these characteristics, declared to 
be impossible, does in reality belong to the Bible ; but I wish to 
know upon what principle anyone can venture to assert positively 
that the discovery of their existence strips the Bible of its Divine 
character ?' 

Dr. D. W. Simon, of Edinburgh, writes : * More or less distinctly 

more distinctly of late all candid inquirers have confessed that there 
was a human as well as a divine element in the Scriptures. The 
Scripture as truly as Christ is divine-human' 

It is proposed, in this work on 'Difficulties,' to recognise fully what 
is thus called the ' human element.' 



HANDBOOK 

OF 



Literary and Scientific Bible Difficulties. 

SECTION I. 
DIFFICULTIES RELATING TO ANCIENT HISTORY. 



OLD TESTAMENT. 



INTRODUCTORY NOTE. 

IN the selection of topics for treatment under this heading, a very 
comprehensive .view of history has been taken. It is regarded as 
including the legendary matters which precede history proper, the 
identification of persons and places, apparent contradictions in his- 
torical statements, chronological complications, diversities in the nar- 
ratives, significance of particular incidents, explanation of elaborate 
details, and the relations of the Sacred History to that which has 
long been known, and that which has recently been recovered, of the 
history of the nations surrounding Israel. 

It may be helpful if the peculiarities of the Sacred History are 
briefly indicated. It is evident that the early portion of Genesis 
must be classed as legendary, and, as such, may be compared with 
the vague antecedents of the history of every nation. When history 
may be said to begin with Abraham, we need to remember that, at 
first, it existed only as narratives retained in memory, and told from 
generation to generation. And when history could be preserved in 
writing, it was still subject to the uncertainties of copying and 
editing. 

We may regard Moses as the Divinely-guided compiler of the 
early history from legendary materials which had been preserved in 
memory as folk-lore. And for the later history we may find two 



16 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

classes of writers those who originally composed fragments o 
matters within their knowledge ; and those who, in later time 
threaded these fragments so as to form an almost continuou 
narrative. 

It is singular that the Bible should never indicate any anxiety cor 
cerning the authorship of any of the portions of which it is composec 
It even seems that pride of authorship is a modern invention. L 
ancient times it was judged useful to fix a great and well-knowi 
name to a composite work, and it was not meant to imply that th 
man so named was responsible for the whole of the contents. Thu: 
David's name is put to the collection of national psalms, of which h( 
only contributed a portion. Solomon's name is attached to the Bool- 
of Proverbs, though the book acknowledges the contributions o; 
others. Isaiah appears to be the author of a book which covers toe 
long a space of time for one human life. We must beware of taking 
our modern notions of authorship and composition as the basis on 
which we judge the origin and character of the ancient writings. 
Due account should be made of the uncertainty of copying, and oi 
translation into other languages ; and it must be admitted that the 
editors would exercise their judgment in the selection, arrangement, 
and fitting together of their materials. If attention is paid to such 
things, many diversities, discrepancies, and apparent contradictions, 
as well as many peculiarities of language and style, will receive a 
simple and satisfactory explanation. 

There are some facts that demand consideration. If Moses wrote 
the Pentateuch, it is quite clear that he could not have had personal 
knowledge of the contents of the first book. There is abundant 
evidence that he had before him various legendary narratives, parts 
of which, suiting his leading idea, he threaded into a tolerably con- 
tinuous story. 

It is equally certain that the histories, from Joshua to the Captivity, 
as we have them now, are not original documents belonging to each 
age, but compilations from such documents as were preserved. 
Indeed, the histories give us the names of a variety of such original 
works, all of which have been destroyed. There was a collection of 
heroic poems known as * The Book of Jasher,' of which extracts are 
given. There were books known as 'The History of Samuel the 
Seer,' 'The History of Nathan the Prophet,' and 'The History of 
Gad the Seer,' 'The Acts of Solomon,' 'The Prophecy of Ahijah the 
Shilonite,' 'The Visions of Iddo the Seer,' 'The Book of the 
Chronicles of the Kings of Israel,' and ' The Book of the Chronicles 
of the Kings of Judah,' these latter being evidently State documents. 



INTRODUCTOR Y NOTE. 17 

It is seldom noticed that the Books of Samuel extend beyond the 
life of Samuel, and so it is only in a limited sense that he was their 
author. The Books of Kings and Chronicles must have been written 
by someone who lived after the last incidents which they narrate, 
and, if so, he must have used previously-provided materials. And if 
this point be studied, it will be found that a space of some 400 years 
intervenes between the preparation of the earlier series, the Books of 
Kings, and the later series, the Books of Chronicles. It is not certain 
that the same original materials were used for the compilation of the 
two sets of works ; and if two separate writers were now to attempt 
to form a history of English life 400 years ago from the various docu- 
ments which might be at their command, they would be sure to 
produce similar diversities and apparent contradictions to those which 
we find in the Books of Kings and Chronicles. 

As to chronology, it is quite plain that there was in ancient times 
no accurate system of dating events, and there is a remarkable 
absence of chronological exactness in the historical writings of the 
Bible. 

These remarks, which will receive abundant illustration in the 
treatment of the several topics of this work, are intended to keep 
before the minds of our readers that the moral movements of the 
people of God are the real subject of Divine revelation, and that 
these are adequately and effectively presented in a history which, so 
far as its mere details are concerned, is encompassed with the ordinary 
infirmities of human histories. 

If any should say, ' Is there, then, no inspired element in the actual 
writing ? Is it, after all, only the ordinary record of an extraordinary 
history ?' we may answer in the words of Mr. Horton : ' Whoever 
these unknown authors were, and we have seen that the historical 
books were all anonymous, we may say of them generally, apart from 
the indications in the quoted authorities, that they were prophets, 
and sons of the prophets. Indifferent as they were to historical con- 
sistency and chronological accuracy, they were keenly alive to the 
element of revelation in the events they were narrating ; they, perhaps 
unconsciously, selected their materials, and arranged them in a 
didactic, an almost homiletical, way. It seems as if their purpose 
was not so much to tell us what happened as to emphasize for us the 
lesson of what happened. It is applied history rather than history 
pure and simple; and on this ground we can understand that 
tendency to irritation which critical historians sometimes betray in 
approaching it. It is, then, if we may so put it, history written in 
the prophetic method. And this remark, duly considered, explains 



i8 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

both the defects and the unique merits of the historical books of the 
Old Testament. On the one hand it explains the indifference to 
details. The prophetic historian would never dream, like a modern 
scientific historian, of writing interminable monographs about a dis- 
puted name or a doubtful date ; he might even take a story which 
rested on very doubtful authority, finding in it more that would suit 
his purpose than the bare and accurate statement of the fact which 
could be authenticated. The standpoint of the prophetic historian 
and of the scientific historian are wholly different ; they cannot be 
judged by the same canons of criticism. 

' On the other hand, the above distinction explains the element 
which we instinctively feel marks this history off from ordinary history. 
To the prophetic eye the significance of all events seems to be in 
their relation to the Will of God. . . . Perhaps, after all, the one fact 
of history is God's work in it ; in which case the scientific histories, 
with all their learning and with all their toil, will look rather small 
by the side of these imperfect compositions, which at least saw vividly 
and recognised faithfully the one fact? 



DIFFICULTIES RELATING TO ANCIENT HISTORY. 
Identification of Goliath. 

i SAMUEL xvii. 4: 'And there went out a champion out of the camp of the 
Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.' 

Difficulty. Other persons are called by this name, and the death 
of a Goliath is elsewhere attributed to one Elhanan, a Bethlehemite. 

Explanation. It will be well to have before us all the passages 
that can give light on this difficulty. The passage given above is 
the first reference to Goliath, and with verse 23, of the same chapter, 
is probably the only reference to the original Goliath. Whether we 
regard the Books of Samuel as made up from historical documents 
or not, we must give the writer credit for knowing what he was 
writing about, and not saying in one place that Goliath was killed by 
David, and in another by one Elhanan. In 2 Sam. xxi. .15-22, an 
account is given of four ' sons of the giant ;' this could mean no 
other than the giant David himself had slain. Verse 22 reads: 
* These four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of 
David, and by the hand of his servants.' This is a succinct way of 
saying, Goliath and his four sons fell by the hand of David and his 



IDENTIFICA TION OF GO LI A TH. 1 9 

servants.' If the account be given in precise detail, David slew the 
father, and his servants, on different occasions, slew all four sons. 

Now we have the names, or the descriptions, of three of these sons, 
so that we can identify them without dispute. Ishbi-benob, 
2 Sam. xxi. 16; Soph, v. 18; a nameless six-fingered man, v. 20. 
But the third name seems uncertain. It is given in verse 19, and 
in i Chron. xx. 5 ; these two verses may be set beside each other 
as given in the Revised Version. 

2 Sam. xxi. 19 : 'And there was again war with the Philistines at 
Gob, and Elhanan, the son of Jaare-oregim the Bethlehemite, slew 
Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver's beam.' 

i Chron. xx. 5 : * And there was again war with the Philistines, and 
Elhanan, the son of Jair, slew Lahmi, the brother of Goliath the Gittite, 
the staff of whose spear was like a weaver's beam.' 

There is certainly some confusion here. Let us see how much is 
clear. 

1. Both the compiler of Samuel, and of Chronicles, distinctly 
affirm that all the persons they speak of as conquered and slain were 
sons of the giant, born to the giant in Gath. See 2 Sam. xxi. 
22 ; i Chron. xx. 8. Whatever, then, may be the confusion of the 
names given, the four persons in Samuel, and the three persons in 
Chronicles, were all sons of the giant, and cannot be confused with 
their father. 

2. This also is clear : the battle in which Elhanan conquered 
occurred at Gob (2 Sam. xxi. 19) orGezer (i Chron. xx. 4). Whether 
this name ' Gob ' stands for ' Gezer ' or ' Gath,' one thing is certain it 
cannot be the same as ' Ephes-dammim,' where David fought 
Goliath. 

In the passage as given in Samuel (A.V.) the words ' the brother 
of are in italics, intimating that they are not in the original, but 
were inserted by the translators in order to make sense, and 
harmonize the passage with the one in Chronicles. They' cannot 
be the proper ones to insert, because verse 22 plainly asserts that 
the man was a son of Goliath, whom David slew, and not a brother. 
There is evident error in the text i Chron. xx. 5 ; the same remark 
applies to it. The compiler is made to say, in verse 5, that Elhanan 
slew Lahmi, the brother of Goliath, and in verse 8, this Lahmi was 
one of the sons born to the giant in Gath. It is evident that the 
words ' Lahmi, the son of,' have slipped out of the text in Samuel ; 
and ' brother ' has taken the place of ' son ' in the text of Chronicles. 
We then have the four sons of the original Goliath fully accounted 
for, Ishbi-benob, Saph, Lahmi, and the 'six-fingered,' and their 



ao HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

deaths were brought about at the hands of Abishai, Sibbechai, 
Elhanan, and Shimea. 

All writers agree that the text of these two passages is imperfect, 
but there is difference of opinion as to which should be regarded as 
the corrective of the other. In favour of correcting Samuel from 
Chronicles, we have Michaelis, Kennicott, Dathe, Keil, and Thenius, 
In favour of correcting Chronicles from Samuel, we have Ewald and 
Bertheau. Ewaltfs suggested explanation is based on the purest 
conjecture, and is a good illustration of the way in which theories 
are invented when common sense would suffice to remove the 
difficulty. He says : ' We know from one of the earliest accounts that 
Goliath of Gath the giant " whose spear-shaft was like a weaver's 
beam " was really slain by a certain Elhanan, the son of Jair of 
Bethlehem; and, indeed, according to the same authority, this 
event did not take place until David had already become king. 
Since we cannot doubt that the giant so described is the same whose 
name is now introduced in David's early history, we must suppose 
that his name was transferred to the Philistine whom David slew 
(who is, moreover, generally called simply "the Philistine,") when his 
proper name had been lost. This would be all the more likely to 
happen, because Elhanan, like David, was a native of Bethlehem.' 

Another attempt to get over the difficulty has been made. Jerome 
suggested that Elhanan may have been another and an earlier 
name of David. It is enough to reply that he is distinctly classed 
with David's generals Abishai, Sibbechai, and Shimea. 

R. F. Norton, in his work ' Inspiration and the Bible,' uses the 
difficulty of identifying Goliath to support his theory of various frag- 
mentary sources for the Scripture histories. He regards the story of 
David's killing Goliath as a distinct, and interpolated, narrative. He 
says : ' Read i Sam. xvi. 14-23 and then go on at xviii. 6, and you 
see you have a straightforward narrative ; the section xvii. to xviii. 
5, appears plainly as a separate piece, coming no doubt from a 
separate source. This interpolated section is one of the most 
conned and loved of Old Testament stories; but it is certainly 
very puzzling to find our author in xxi. 19, informing us that 
Goliath of Gath was killed, not by David at all, but by another 
Bethlehemite named Elhanan. The chronicler (i Chron. xx. 5) was 
as puzzled as we are, and took the liberty of altering the statement, 
saying that Elhanan slew, not Goliath, but his brother.' Mr. Horton 
did not, we fear, seek for any explanation of the confusion, or note 
that the ' brother ' of verse 5 is the ' son ' of verse 8. 

The only other attempted explanation to which reference need be 



THE PHARAOH OF ABRAM'S DA YS. 21 

made regards Goliath as a family name, and treats the several names 
as distinctive of individual members. We should therefore read, 
Ishbi-Goliath, Saph-Goliath, Lahmi-Goliath, etc. Bishop Words- 
worth writes : ' The word " Goliath " means a stranger, an alien. It 
may describe any one of the family of giants at Gath, the Anakim, or 
sons of Anak, the Philistine Titans ; as Hamor was the name of the 
chiefs of Shechem, Abimelech of Gerah, Pharaoh and Ptolemy of 
those of Egypt, Caesar of Rome, and the members of the giant family 
of the Cyclops are all called Cyclopes by Homer and other poets.' 

It is quite possible that the word in Samuel, ' Bethlehemite,' which 
is wanting in Chronicles, is a corruption of ' Lahmi, the brother (or 
son) of.' 

The Pharaoh of Ab ram's Days. 

GENESIS xii. 15 : 'The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her 
before Pharaoh : and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house.' 

Question. Is it possible to decide, with any great probability, the 
name and dynasty of this Pharaoh ? 

Answer. No certainty is attainable. The name * Pharaoh ' gives 
us no help, as its derivation and meaning are now well known. 
M. De Rouge* has shown that the hieroglyphic which is the regular 
title of the Egyptian kings, signifies ' the great house,' or the * double 
house,' and must be read, Peraa, or Perao. The identity of this 
name with Pharaoh is admitted by Brugsch, Ebers, Canon Cook, etc. 
How early in Egyptian history this name was applied to the reigning 
monarch cannot be known. It was a title of respect, veiling the 
person of the monarch under the name of his dwelling, in much the 
same manner as we include the sovereign and his attendants under 
the name of the ' Court.' 

Some have argued that because Abram, an Arab Sheikh, found 
favour in Egypt, its Pharaoh must have been one of the Hyksos, or 
Shepherd Kings, and as it is almost certain that the Pharaoh of 
Joseph's time belonged to the twelfth dynasty, the Pharaoh of Abram's 
time must have belonged to that dynasty or an earlier one. 

' Very little beyond the names of the kings who belonged to the 
sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, and eleventh dynasties is known ; 
and a gap of about 500 years occurs in the history, which it 
is absolutely impossible to fill up in detail. The first king of the 
twelfth dynasty was called Amenemha.' 

W.J. Deane, M.A., in his recent 'Life of Abraham,' favours an 
earlier date : ' To determine the exact date of Abram's arrival in Egypt, 
and who was the Pharaoh whom he found upon the throne, is impos- 



22 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

sible. Josephus calls him in one place Nechaoh, and in another 
Pharaothes ; other Jewish authorities name him Rikaion or Rakaion, 
adding that he came from Sinear, and obtained the royal dignity by 
force and fraud. Malala gives him the name of Naracho, of which 
Rikaion seems to be a corruption, and which is probably the same as 
the Nechaoh of Josephus. That the Egypt even of that early date 
was a country of vast importance, and of venerable antiquity, is 
certain from the monuments which have survived ; but the obscurity 
of its early annals has not yet been cleared up, nor is the chronology 
of its several dynasties accurately fixed. But it was probably between 
the sixth and eleventh dynasties, and during the dominion of the 
Hyksos, or Shepherds, that Abram appeared in the land.' 

Professor Sayce takes the same view. ' The Middle Empire, from 
the twelfth dynasty, did not last long. Semitic invaders from Canaan 
and Arabia overran the country, and established their seat at Zoan or 
Tanis. For 511 years they held the Egyptians in bondage, though 
the native princes, who had taken refuge in the south, gradually 
acquired more and more power, until at last, under Aahmes or 
Amosis, founder of the eighteenth dynasty, they succeeded in driving 
the hated foreigners out. It must have been while the Hyksos 
monarchs were holding their court at Zoan that Abraham entered the 
land. He found there men of Semitic blood, like himself, and 
speaking a Semitic language. A welcome was assured him, and he 
had no need of an interpreter.' 

Kings of the Hittites. 

2 KINGS vii. 6 : ' For the Lord had made the host of the Syrians to hear a 
noise of chariots, and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host : and they 
said one to another, Lo, the king of Israel hath hired against us the kings of the 
Hittites, and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us.' 

Difficulty. As the only other Bible allusions to Hittites refer to 
the small nation which formed one of the Canaanite nations that were 
dispossessed by the Israelites, this mention of the Hittites as a distinct 
and powerful ?iation seems to be incorrect. 

Explanation. This difficulty was seriously felt by all the older 
Biblical writers. But it has no more foundation than lack of know- 
ledge. That lack has been quite recently supplied, and consequently 
the difficulty can now be completely removed. The history of the 
comments on this text furnishes so severe a rebuke to the dogmatic 
spirit, which asserts error when adequate explanation is not at once 
forthcoming, that we may give it a careful consideration. 

Matthew Henry says on this verse : ' There was, for aught we 



KINGS OF THE HITTITES. 23 

know, but one king of Egypt; and what kings there were of the 
Hittites nobody can imagine ; but as they were imposed upon by that 
dreadful sound in their ears, so they imposed upon themselves by the 
interpretation they made of it.' 

Dr. Sayce tells of a distinguished scholar, nearly forty years ago, 
who, selecting this passage for criticism, wrote in this way concerning 
it : ' Its unhistorical tone is too manifest to allow of our easy belief 
in it. No Hittite kings can have compared in power with the King 
of Judah, the real and near ally, who is not named at all ... nor is 
there a single mark of acquaintance with the contemporaneous 
history.' 

Even Dean Stanley had to write on the subject without adequate 
knowledge. He says, 'The Amorites, or mountaineers, occupied the 
central and southern hills (of Palestine) with the Hittites and Hivites. 
The Hittites belong to the more peaceful occupants, and their name 
is that by which Palestine, in these early ages, was chiefly known in 
foreign countries.' 

Ewald has no idea of Hittites, save as one of the small nations 
inhabiting Canaan at the time of the Israelite invasion. ' The con- 
trast to these highlanders (the Amorites) with their strong castles is 
furnished by the Hittites, as dwellers in the valley, who had different 
employments and manners, and lived, wherever possible, in distinct 
and independent communities. We are not, therefore, surprised to 
find them living near the mountains wherever they could find room, 
as for instance in the south near Hebron, and extending from thence 
as far as Bethel in the centre of the land. They nowhere appear as 
warlike as the Amorites, but rather lovers of refinement at an early 
period, and living in well-ordered communities possessing national 
assemblies. Abraham's allies in war are Amorites; but when he 
desires to obtain a possession peaceably he turns to the Hittites.' 

These extracts may suffice to indicate what was known or imagined 
concerning the Hittites up to quite recent years. 

But by-and-by it began to be perceived that the above text, and 
similar references to tribes, or a nation, of Hittites (i Kings x. 29; 
2 Chron. i. 17), and more especially their association with the 'kings 
of Syria,' pointed to a people settled independently beyond Lebanon, 
possibly on the south-eastern frontier towards Arabia. 

When the Egyptian annals came to be more fully known, and more 
carefully examined, tjiey were found to refer to a war with Hittites, 
and these could not be the petty tribe dwelling in Canaan. Egyptian 
pictures, too, were believed to represent Hittites. 

The way was thus preparing for the most interesting and important 



24 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

discovery of modern times. It is now known that the Hittites of 
Palestine were only a colony, or offshoot, from a large and strong 
nation occupying the tract of North Syria, between the Euphrates and 
Orontes. In the thirteenth century before Christ, as is proved by 
inscriptions cut in the rocks, their power extended over great part of 
Asia Minor. Carchemish, Kadesh, Hamath, and Helbon (or Aleppo) 
were their capitals. ' They are found among the Syrian enemies of 
the Egyptians in the monuments of the nineteenth dynasty (about 
B.C. 1300), and in the early Assyrian monuments they appear as the 
most powerful people of Northern Syria, dwelling on both banks of 
the Euphrates in the country along its course from Bir to Balis. In 
this tract they formed a great confederacy under a number of petty 
kings, while, at the same time, there is a second confederacy of their 
race further to the south, which seems to inhabit the Anti-Lebanon 
between Hamath and Damascus.' (Speaker's Commentary.} 

By the Egyptians the Hittites were called Kheta, or Khata. 
Dr. Sayce finds it possible to speak of a ' Hittite Empire ' from the 
time of Ramses II. He says : ' From this time forward it becomes 
possible to speak of a Hittite Empire. Kadesh was once more in 
Hittite hands, and the influence formerly enjoyed by Egypt in Pales- 
tine and Syria was now enjoyed by its rival. The rude mountaineers 
of the Taurus had descended into the fertile plains of the south, 
interrupting the intercourse between Babylonia and Canaan, and 
superseding the cuneiform characters of Chaldaea by their own 
hieroglyphic writing. From henceforth the Babylonian language 
ceased to be the language of diplomacy and education.' 

' The " land of the Hittites," according to the statements of the 
Vannic Kings, stretched along the banks of the Euphrates from Palu 
on the east as far as Malatiyeh on the west. The Hittites of the 
Assyrian monuments lived to the south-west of this region, spreading 
through Komagene to Carchemish and Aleppo. The Egyptian 
records bring them yet further south, to Kadesh on the Orontes, while 
the Old Testament carries the name into the extreme south of Pales- 
tine. It is evident, therefore, that we must see in the Hittite tribes 
fragments of a race whose original seat was in the ranges of the 
Taurus, but who had pushed their way into the warm plains and valleys 
of Syria and Palestine. They belonged originally to Asia Minor, not 
to Syria, and it was conquest only which gave them a right to the 
name of Syrians. Hittite was their true title, and whether the tribes 
to which it belonged lived in Judah or on the Orontes, at Carchemish 
or in the neighbourhood of Palu, this was the title under which they 
were known.' 



KINGS Of THE H1TTITES. 25 

As to the personal appearance of this race, Dr. Sayce says : ' The 
Hittites were a people with yellow skins and " Mongoloid " features, 
whose receding foreheads, oblique eyes, and protruding upper jaws, 
are represented as faithfully on their own monuments as they are on 
those of Egypt, so that we cannot accuse the Egyptian artists of 
caricature. If the Egyptians have made the Hittites ugly, it was 
because they were so in reality.' 

In his interesting work, * Fresh Light from Ancient Monuments,' 
Dr. Sayce has a chapter on the Empire of the Hittites, which contains 
a sketch of the history of the discovery of this people, their sculptures, 
and their writing ; and he has more fully dealt with the subject in a 
recent work on ' The Hittites.' From the former of these books we take 
the following passages, premising that it was quite recently published. 

* Five years ago there was no one who suspected that a great empire 
had once existed in Western Asia, and contended on equal terms with 
both Egypt and Assyria, the founders of which were the little noticed 
Hittites of the Old Testament. Still less did anyone dream that 
these same Hittites had once carried their arms, their art, and their 
religion to the shores of the ^Egean, and that the early civilization of 
Greece and Europe was as much indebted to them as it was to the 
Phoenicians. 

1 The discovery was made in 1879. Recent exploration and excava- 
tion* had shown that the primitive art and culture of Greece, as 
revealed, for example, by Dr. Schliemann's excavations at Mykense, 
were influenced by a peculiar art and culture emanating from Asia 
Minor. Here, too, certain strange monuments had been discovered, 
which form a continuous chain from Lydia in the west to Kappadokia 
and Lykaonia in the east. The best known of these are certain rock 
sculptures found at Boghaz, Keui and Eyuk, on the eastern side of 
the Halys, and two figures in relief in the pass of Karabel, near 
Sardes, which the old Greek historian, Herodotus, had long ago 
supposed to be memorials of the Egyptian conqueror, Sesostris, or 
Ramses II. 

' Meanwhile, other discoveries were being made in lands more imme- 
diately connected with the Bible. Scholars had learned from the 
Egyptian inscriptions that, before the days of the Exodus, the Egyptian 
monarchs had been engaged in fierce struggles with the powerful 
nation of the Hittites, whose two chief seats were at Kadesh on the 
Orontes, and Carchemish on the Euphrates, and who were able to 
summon to their aid subject-allies not only from Palestine, but also 
far away from Lydia and the Troad, on the western coast of Asia 
Minor. Ramses II. himself, the Pharaoh of the oppression, had 



26 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

been glad to make peace with his antagonists ; and the treaty, which 
provided, among other things, for the amnesty of political offenders 
who had found a shelter during the war among one or other of the 
two combatants, was cemented by the marriage of the Egyptian king 
with the daughter of his rival. A century or two afterwards Tiglath- 
Pileser I. of Assyria found his passage across the Euphrates barred 
by the Hittites of Carchemish and their Kolkhian mercenaries. 
From this time forward the Hittites proved dangerous enemies to the 
Assyrian kings in their attempts to extend the empire towards the 
west, until at last, in B.C. 717, Sargon succeeded in capturing their 
rich capital, Carchemish, and in making it the seat of an Assyrian 
satrap. Henceforth the Hittites disappear from history. 

1 That they were a literary people, and possessed a system of writing 
of their own, we learn from the Egyptian monuments. What this 
writing was has been revealed by recent discoveries. Inscriptions in 
a peculiar kind of hieroglyphics or picture-writing have been found at 
Hamath, Aleppo, and Carchemish, in Kappadokia, Lykaonia, and 
Lydia. They are always found associated with sculptures in a 
curious style of art, some of which from Carchemish, the modern 
Jerablus, are now in the British Museum. It was the discovery of 
this fact (by Dr. Sayce), in 1879, which first revealed the existence of 
the Hittite Empire and its importance in the history of civilization. 
Certain hieroglyphic inscriptions, originally noticed by the traveller 
Burckhardt, at Hamah, the ancient Hamath, had been made acces- 
sible to the scientific world by the Palestine Exploration Fund, and 
the conjecture had been put forward that they represented the long- 
lost writing of the Hittites. The conjecture was shortly afterwards 
confirmed by the discovery of similar inscriptions at Jerablus, which 
Mr. Skene and Mr. George Smith had already identified with the site 
of Carchemish. If, therefore, the early monuments of Asia Minor 
were really of Hittite origin, it was clear that they ought to be accom- 
panied by Hittite hieroglyphics. And such turned out to be the case. 
On visiting the sculptured figure in the pass of Karabel, in which 
Herodotus had seen an image of the great opponent of the Hittites, 
Dr. Sayce found that the characters engraved by the side of it were 
all of them Hittite forms.' 

It is only necessary to add, ' that the Hittites were intruders in the 
Semitic territory of Syria. Their origin must be sought in the high- 
lands of Kappadokia, and from hence they descended into the regions 
of the south, at that time occupied by Semitic Arameans. Hamath 
and Kadesh had once been Aramean cities, and when they were again 
wrested from the possession of the Hittites they did but return to 



KINGS OF THE HITTITES. 27 

their former owners. The fall of Carchemish meant the final triumph 
of the Semites in their long struggle with the Hittite stranger. 

* Even in their southern home the Hittites preserved the dress of 
the cold mountainous country from which they had come. They are 
characterized by boots with turned-up toes, such as are still worn by 
the mountaineers of Asia Minor and of Greece. They were thick-set, 
and somewhat short of limb, and the Egyptian artists painted them 
without beards, of a yellowish-white colour, with dark black hair. In 
short, as M. Lenormant has pointed out, they had all the physical 
characteristics of a Caucasian tribe. Their descendants are still to be 
met with in the defiles of the Taurus, and on the plateau of Kappa- 
dokia, though they have utterly forgotten the language or languages 
their forefathers spoke. What their language was is still uncertain. 
But the proper names preserved on the Egyptian and Assyrian 
monuments show that it did not belong to the Semitic family of 
speech, and an analysis of the Hittite inscriptions further makes it 
evident that it made large use of suffixes. But we must be on our 
guard against supposing that the language was uniform throughout 
the district in which the Hittite population lived. Different tribes, 
doubtless, spoke different dialects; and some of these dialects 
probably differed widely from each other. But they all belonged to 
the same general type and class of language, and may, therefore, be 
collectively spoken of as the Hittite language, just as the various 
dialects of England are collectively termed English.' 

Identification of Belshazzar. 

DANIEL v. 30 : ' In that night was Belshazzar, the king of the Chaldseans, 
slain.' 

Question. What light has been thrown upon the reign, and the 
death, of this king by recent discoveries ? 

Answer. It will be well to see first what was the knowledge at 
command a few years ago, so that we may clearly understand the 
importance of the additions and corrections that have been recently 
suggested. 

The kings of Babylon after Nebuchadnezzar, who died 561 B.C., 
were Evil-Merodach (561-559), Neriglissar (559-556), Laborosoarchod 
(reigned nine months), and Nabu-Nahid (555-538). Herodotus gives 
only the one name Labynetus to fill up the interval; and the 
Scriptures only mention Evil-Merodach and Belshazzar. 

Belshazzar is called the ' son of Nebuchadnezzar,' but this need 
not occasion difficulty, because the term ' son' is freely used to mean 



28 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

' descendant,' and Belshazzar would be regarded as a son of the 
royal house if he married one of the princesses. Two explanations 
seem to have gained favour. Belshazzar was regarded as a second 
name for Evil-Merodach, who perished, as Belshazzar is said to have 
done, after a reign of the same length as is ascribed to Belshazzar. 
But the dates cannot be fitted to this theory. In 1854 a remarkable 
discovery was made by Sir H. Rawlinson, at Mugheir, the ancient 
Ur ; but the value of it in relation to the question before us is not 
universally admitted. 'Documents were brought to light which 
prove that Nabonnedus (Nabu-Nahid), during the last years of his 
reign, associated his son Bil-shar-uzur with himself in the government, 
and allowed him the royal title. He, then, may have conducted the 
defence of Babylon within the walls ; while the father commanded 
without. Bil-shar-uzur was very young at the time ; but princes as 
young as he have held high command in the East ; thus Herod the 
Great was Governor of Galilee at fifteen ; and the interference of 
the queen is some presumption of the king's youth. If Nabonnedus 
married a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar, and if Belshazzar was the 
issue of that marriage, the expressions of Dan. v. n, 13, 18, 22 are 
accounted for. Also, as there were two sovereigns, it is seen why 
Daniel was proclaimed third ruler of the kingdom.' 

According to Berosus, Nabonnedus had retired from Babylon to the 
neighbouring city of Borsippa; there he was blockaded, and, surrender- 
ing at last to Cyrus, his life was spared, a principality in Carmania 
was bestowed on him, and there he died. The circumstances 
connected with the taking of Babylon by Cyrus are disputed. 
Xenophon speaks of the capture of the city during a night of 
feasting, and of the death of the king, whom, however, he does not 
name. 

A fairly reasonable account of Belshazzar was thus given in 
explanation of the Scripture references. He was represented as the 
son, and joint king, of Nabonnedus, and entrusted with the defence 
of Babylon, while his father led the army in the field. Scripture does 
not give any intimation of a desperate assault on Babylon. It is 
quite open to the possibility that the city was taken by stratagem, or 
even entered quietly at the goodwill of the officials. The only thing 
affirmed is that, on the very night of the banquet, Belshazzar was 
slain. 

Professor George Rawlinson presents the following arguments in 
support of the discovery of Sir H. Rawlinson, which provides such 
important help toward the identification of Belshazzar. 'Sir H. 
Rawlinson's inference from the inscription has been denied. (On 



IDENTIFICATION OF BELSHAZZAR. 29 

cylinders placed by Nabonidus at the corners of the great temple of 
Ur, he mentioned by name "his eldest son, Bel-shar-uzur," and 
prayed the moon-god to take him under his protection "that his 
glory might endure.") Mr. Fox Talbot has maintained that the 
inscription does not furnish the " slightest evidence," that Bel-shar- 
uzur was ever regarded as co-regent with his father. " He may," he 
says, " have been a mere child when it was written." The controversy 
turns upon the question, What was Oriental practice in this matter ? 
Sir H. Rawlinson holds that Oriental monarchs generally, and the 
Assyrian and Babylonian kings in particular, were so jealous of 
possible rivals in their own family, that they did not name even their 
own sons upon public documents unless they had associated them with 
them in the government. Kudur-mabuk mentions his son Rim-agu ; 
but he has made him King of Larsa. Sennacherib mentions Asshur- 
nadinsum, but on the occasion of his elevation to the throne of 
Babylon. Apart from these instances, and that of Bel-shar-uzur, there 
does not seem to be any mention made of their sons by name by the 
monarchs of either country.' 

' The supposition that Bel-shar-uzur may have been " a mere child," 
when the inscription on which his name occurs was set up, is com- 
pletely negatived by the newly discovered tablet of Nabonidus, which 
shows him to have had a son and Bel-shar-uzur was his "eldest son" 
who held the command of his main army from his seventh year, B.C. 
549, to his eleventh, B.C. 545. It is a reasonable supposition that the 
prince mentioned upon this tablet was Bel-shar-uzur. He is called 
emphatically " the king's son," and is mentioned five times. While 
Cyrus is threatening Babylon both on the north and on the south, 
Nabonidus is shown to have remained sluggish and inert within the 
walls of the capital, the true kingly power being exercised by " the 
king's son," who is with the army and the officers in Akkad, or 
northern Babylonia, watching Cyrus, and protecting Babylon. When 
the advance of the army of Babylon is finally made, what " the king's 
son " did is not told us. Nabonidus must have roused himself from 
his lethargy, and joined his troops ; but as soon as he found himself 
in danger, he fled. Pursuit was made, he was captured possibly at 
Borsippa, as Berosus related. The victorious Persians took him 
with them into Babylon. If at this time " the king's son " was still 
alive, any further resistance that was made must, almost certainly, 
have been made by him. Now, such resistance was made. A body of 
" rebels," as they are called, threw themselves into Bit-Saggatu, or the 
fortified enclosure within which stood the Great Temple of Bel- 
Merodach and the Royal Palace, and, shutting to the gates, defied 



30 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

the enemy. It is true one record says no preparations had been 
previously made for the defence of the place, and there was no store 
of weapons in it. But the soldiers would have their own weapons ; 
the temple and the palace would probably be well supplied with wine 
and provisions ; the defences would be strong ; and the feeling of the 
defenders may well have been such as Herodotus ascribes to the 
mass of the Babylonians when they shut themselves within the walls 
of the town. Bel-shar-uzur and his lords may have felt so secure 
that they could indulge in feasting and revelry. They may have 
maintained their position for months. It is at any rate most 
remarkable that the writer of the tablet, having launched his shaft of 
contempt against the foolish "rebels, "interposed a break of more than 
four months between this and the next paragraph. It was at the end 
of Tammuz that the " rebels " closed the gates of Bit-Saggatu ; it was 
not till the third day of Marchesvan that "Cyrus to Babylon 
descended, and made peace there. It may have been on the night 
of his arrival with strong reinforcements that the final attack was 
made, and that Belshazzar, having provoked God by a wanton act of 
impiety, was slain." ' 

The objections to this identification of the Belshazzar of Daniel 
with Bil-shar-uzur, the eldest son of Nabonidus, are: (i) Belshazzar 
is called repeatedly the son of Nebuchadnezzar, but there is no 
evidence that Bel-shar-uzur was in any way related to that monarch. 
(2) The Book of Daniel gives no hint of Belshazzar's having a father 
still alive, and on the throne. (In replying to this, due importance 
may be given to the fact that Daniel was constituted third ruler ; 
v. 7.) 

Professor A. H. Sayce reads the latest inscriptions in such a way 
as to venture on the statement that Babylon was not besieged and 
taken by Cyrus. It opened its gates to his general long before he 
came near it, and needed neither fighting nor battle for its occupa- 
tion. There may have been several sieges of the city, and foreign 
historians may have confused these together. We need to be very 
careful in not making Scripture responsible for the errors of 
Herodotus and other historians. And concerning Belshazzar 
Scripture affirms no more than the banquet of the king, and his death 
by violence on the night of the banquet, and the change of the 
government of Babylon on the event of his death. It may be further 
noticed that the name of the last King of Babylon, on the Babylonian 
records, is Maruduk-sarra-usur, which is not unlike Belshazzar, or 
Bel-shar-uzur. 

There will probably be further discoveries which may help to clear 



IDENTIFICATION OF BELSHAZZAR. 31 

up difficulties ; but it must be admitted that the most recent dis- 
coveries tend to increase difficulties rather than to relieve them. * In 
the inscription of Cyrus, of which Professor Sayce gives a somewhat 
full account, Cyrus states that he "took Babylon without bloodshed, 
and made Nabonidus prisoner." He also mentions that " the king's 
son " was at Accad, " with his great men and soldiers," in the same 
year as the capture of Babylon, and that the men of Accad raised 
a revolt. Further on in the inscription, which is much mutilated, a 
statement is made, " and the king died. From the seventh of the 
month Adar unto the third day of the month Nisan there was weep- 
ing in Accad." Now, according to the last mention made of 
Nabonidus in this inscription, he was taken bound to Babylon. It is 
highly probable, therefore, that the king who died at Accad was " the 
king's son " mentioned in an earlier part of the inscription. May it 
not be conjectured that this was Belshazzar, and that the scene de- 
scribed in Dan. v. occured at Accad, and not at Babylon?' (H. 
Deane, B.D.) 

We may venture to say that Belshazzar is identified as the eldest 
son of Nabonidus, but the materials are not yet at our command for 
presenting his history with minuteness and precision. 



Fulfilment of the Curse on Jericho. 

i KINGS xvi. 34 : 'In his days did Hiel the Bethel-ite build Jericho : he laid 
the foundation thereof in Abiram his firstborn, and set up the gates thereof in his 
youngest son, Segub, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by 
Joshua, the son of Nun.' 

Difficulty. As Jericho is mentioned as an existing town between 
the time of Joshua and the time of Ahab, it is not easy to recognise in 
what lay the precise sin of Hiel. 

Explanation. It will be well first to have all the passages 
relating to the matter before us. The first is the curse pronounced 
by Joshua : ' And Joshua adjured them at that time, saying, Cursed 
be the man before the Lord, that riseth up and buildeth this city 
Jericho ; he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in 
his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it.' On this curse it 
may be remarked that the interest of the siege of Jericho gathers 
about the walls, or fortifications, of the city. The miraculous power 
of God was directed to the throwing down of the walls ; and the 
significant reference in the curse to the ' gates ' may indicate that the 
curse took a soldier's form, and was concerned only with the peril 
which might attend upon rebuilding the walls, and refortifying the 



32 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

town. Jericho, as an open town, would be no peril to the young 
nation, but Jericho, walled and fortified, might easily become a 
serious menace if seized by a hostile army. As we read the original 
curse, then, it may be intended to curse the fortifier rather than the re- 
builder of the city. 

The following are the intimations that a city was to be found at 
the site of Jericho up to the time of David. In Judges i. 16, the 
children of the Kenite are said to have gone up ' out of the city of 
palm-trees ;' and that this was the recognised name of Jericho is 
inferred from Deut. xxxiv. 3 ; 2 Chron. xxviii. 15. 

In Judges iii. 13, we are told that Eglon of Moab confederated 
with the children of Ammon and Amalek, and went 'and smote 
Israel, and they possessed the city of palm-trees.' 

But the matter is made quite certain by the fact that David 
appointed Jericho for the place of retirement to his ambassadors 
whom the Ammonites had maltreated. They were to tarry at Jericho 
until their beards were grown ; and there certainly must have been a 
Jericho to tarry at (2 Sam. x. 5). 

Two explanations have been suggested, (i) As a devoted city 
might not be rebuilt (Deut. xiii. 16), and the Jews in all probability 
levelled the houses, we may assume that the open towns referred to 
in Judges, and Samuel, were built in the neighbourhood, but not 
at the original site. But if there was already a Jericho quite near, it 
is difficult to understand why Hiel should take the trouble to build 
on the old site. (2) The other suggestion is, in every way, the most 
reasonable one, and is supported by most Biblical writers. As a 
part of Ahab's military schemes, taken without giving any heed to 
the word or will of God, Hiel was entrusted with the work of re- 
fortifying Jericho, as a frontier garrison of the territory of Israel, 
and as commanding the ford over the Jordan. It was designed to 
be a Divine warning to Ahab, that the old curse so surely fell on 
him who thus wilfully acted against a positive Divine command. 

The narrative of Hiel is given as a proof of the general impiety 
of Ahab's time. Men were wilful because the king set an example 
of wilfulness. ' The curse of Joshua had hitherto been respected ; 
but now faith in the old religion had so decayed that Joshua's 
malediction terrible as it was no longer exercised a deterrent 
power.' 



THE TIME FOR KILLING THE PASSOVER. 33 
The Time for Killing the Passover. 

EXODUS xii. 6 : ' And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same 
month : and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the 
evening.' REV. VER. : ' At even.' HEB. : ' Between the two evenings.' 

Question. Does any symbolical importance attach to the precision 
of these Passover requirements ? 

Answer. The thing that most arrests attention, in the account 
of the institution of the Passover, is the precision and minuteness of 
the details. Everything had to be done at exactly prescribed times, 
and in exactly prescribed ways. But the explanation is to be found 
in the necessity for putting to the test the obedience of the people, 
rather than in the symbolical suggestion of all the details of the 
ritual. It is always safer to seek for moral than for symbolical 
meanings in the Divine regulations : for, even if symbolical ones can 
be found, they are only the handmaids of the moral. The end of all 
Divine dealings, whatever may be the forms they take, is always the 
culture of character. Symbol and rite are never ends in themselves, 
nor can they ever have value apart from their religious and moral 
influence. 

Moral obedience can be tested by requirements definite in form, 
and precise in detail. A formal obedience may satisfy itself with 
doing the thing that is required ; but heart obedience will find its 
natural expression in doing the thing that is required exactly as he 
who commands wishes it to be done. The details of the Divine 
requirement are of the deepest interest to the man who desires to 
show his love by his obedience. And these minute requirements of 
the Passover rite are to be regarded as a gracious provision of 
opportunities for showing obedience. 

The arrangement of one particular time for killing the lamb, is 
perhaps the most striking of these details. What is called in the 
Hebrew, ' between the two evenings,' was doubtless quite distinctly 
understood by the Israelites, though it seems confusing to us. 
According to Onkelos and Aben Ezra, the first evening was at sun- 
set, the second about an hour later, when the twilight ended, and the 
stars came out (Deut. xvi. 6). Canon Cook thinks the most 
probable explanation is that it includes the time from afternoon, or 
early eventide, until sunset. ' This accords with the ancient custom 
of the Hebrews, who slew the paschal lamb immediately after the offer- 
ing of the daily sacrifice, which on the day of the Passover took place a 
-ittle earlier than usual, between two and three p.m. This would 
illow about two hours and a half for slaying and preparing all the 

3 



34 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

lambs. It is clear that they would not wait until sunset, at which 
time the evening meal would take place. This interpretation is 
supported by Rashi, Kimchi, Bochart, Lightfoot, Clericus, and 
Patrick. Thus Josephus : " They offer this sacrifice from the ninth 
to the eleventh hour." The Greeks had the same idiom, dis- 
tinguishing between the early and late evening.' 

The Pharisees, in our Lord's time (and the Jews now), understood 
the time between the sun's declining and its actual setting. 

Kalisch translated : * at dusk,' and quotes with approval the follow- 
ing from Aben Ezra. * We have two evenings ; the first, the setting 
of the sun, that is, the time when he disappears beneath the 
horizon ; and the second, the ceasing of the light which is reflected 
in the clouds ; and between both lies an interval of about one hour 
and twenty minutes.' 



Sentiment of Egyptians concerning Shepherds. 

GENESIS xlvi. 34 : ' For every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.' 

Question. Is it possible for us to trace the causes, in Egyptian 
manners, or in Egyptian history, for this strong sentiment ? 

Answer. It is not reasonable to suppose the Egyptians merely 
objecting, in an aristocratic spirit, to the occupation of tending cattle. 
Mere class-feeling is not sufficient to explain so strong an expression 
as { an abomination.' The sentiment must have been a national and 
political one. It seems that, ' in the reign of Timaus, or Thamuz, 
Egypt was invaded by a tribe of Cushite Shepherds from Arabia. 
The Egyptians submitted without trying the event of a battle, and 
were exposed, for a period of 260 years, to the most tyrannous and 
insulting conduct from their new masters ; who made one of their 
own number king, and established their capital at Memphis ; having 
in proper places strong garrisons, which kept both Upper and Lower 
Egypt under subjection and tribute. There were six kings of this 
dynasty, who were called Hyksos, or " King-shepherds," and they 
exercised a degree of cruelty and oppression upon the natives which 
left an indelible sense of hatred upon the minds of the Egyptians, 
even in periods long subsequent. At last the national spirit wa^ 
roused, and after a war of thirty years, the princes of Upper Egypt 
succeeded in obliging them to withdraw from the country which hac 
been so deeply injured by their invasion ' (Kitto]. 

Professor George Rawlinson points out that, though this sentimen 
against shepherds prevailed among the native Egyptians, while th< 



SENTIMENT CONCERNING SHEPHERDS. 35 

foreign Hyksos reigned, such an immigration as Jacob's would be 
specially welcome to the authorities. ' Egypt had been conquered, 
some centuries before the time of Joseph, by a nomadic race from 
Asia, of pastoral habits. The conquest had been accompanied with 
extreme cruelty and violence ; wherever the nomads triumphed, the 
males of full age had been massacred, the women and children reduced 
to slaver) 7 , the cities burnt, the temples demolished, the images of the 
gods thrown to the ground. An oppressive and tyrannical rule had 
been established. The old Egyptians, the native African race, were 
bowed down beneath the yoke of unsympathetic aliens. Although 
by degrees the manners of the conquerors became softened, and, as 
so often happens, the rude invaders conformed themselves more and 
more, in language, habits and methods of thought, to the pattern set 
them by their more civilized subjects, yet, so far as feelings and 
sentiments were concerned, a wide gulf still separated the two. Like 
the Aryan Persians under the rule of the Parthian s, like the native 
Chinese under the Mantchu Tartars, the Egyptians groaned and re- 
pined in secret, and persistently nurtured the hope of one day re- 
asserting their independence. Nor were their foreign masters un- 
aware of these feelings. They knew themselves to be detested ; they 
were conscious of the volcano under their feet ; they lived in expecta- 
tion of an outbreak, and were always engaged in making preparations 
against it. In this condition of affairs, each band of immigrants 
from Asia, especially if of nomadic habits, was regarded as an acces- 
sion of strength, and was therefore welcomed and treated with favour. 
Shepherds were " an abomination " to the real native Egyptians. To 
the Hyksos kings, who held the dominion of Egypt, shepherds were 
congenial, and Asiatic shepherds, more or less akin to their own race, 
were viewed as especially trustworthy and reliable.' 

As the date of the Shepherd dynasty is doubtful, many writers 
prefer to explain the sentiment of the Egyptians towards shepherds, 
as a class, as being merely the prejudice of a settled and civilized 
people against a wandering and rough-mannered race. Inglis well 
illustrates this point. * The Egyptians, being a settled, civilized and 
cultivated people, despised the rude, wandering shepherd ; in proof 
of which they are always depicted on the monuments with long, lean, 
sickly and distorted forms. So great was the hatred of shepherds,, 
that the figures of them were wrought into the soles of their sandals, 
that they might tread at least on their effigies. There is a mummy in 
Paris having a shepherd bound with cords painted beneath the 
buskins. Wool was considered by the priests to be unclean, and was 
never used for wrapping the dead. The Pharisaic prejudices, and the 

32 



36 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

repulsions of caste, meaningless and irrational, so violent in India in 
the present day, may help us to an explanation of the Egyptian 
aversion to shepherds.' 

Speakers Commentary adds : ' Herodotus speaks of the aversion of 
Egyptians for swineherds. To this day, sheep-feeding is esteemed 
the office of women and slaves. The fact that the Egyptians them- 
selves were great agriculturists, tillers of land, and that their neighbours 
the Arab tribes of the desert, with whom they were continually at 
feud, were nomads only, may have been sufficient to cause this feeling. 
The Egyptians looked on all the people of Egypt as of noble race, 
and on all foreigners as low-born. Hence they would naturally 
esteem a nomadic people in close proximity to themselves, and with 
a much lower civilization than their own, as barbarous and despic- 
able.' 

Kitto is probably right in a careful distinction which he makes. 
' We are inclined to consider that the aversion of the Egyptians was 
not so exclusively against rearers of cattle as such, as against the class 
of pastors who associated the rearing of cattle with habits and pursuits 
which rendered them equally hated and feared by a settled and re- 
fined people like the Egyptians. We would therefore understand the 
text in the most intense sense, and say that " every nomad shepherd 
was an abomination to the Egyptians " for there is no evidence that 
this disgrace attached, for instance, to those cultivators who, being 
proprietors of lands, made the rearing of cattle an important part of 
their business. The nomad tribes who pastured their flocks on the 
borders, or within the limits of Egypt, did not in general belong to 
the Egyptian nation, but were of Arabian, or Libyan, descent j 
whence the prejudice against them as nomads was superadded to 
that against foreigners in general. The turbulent and aggressive dis- 
position which usually forms part of the character of nomads and 
their entire independence, or at least the imperfect and uncertain 
control which it is possible to exercise over their tribes are circum- 
stances so replete with annoyance and danger to a carefully organised 
society, like that of the Egyptians, as sufficiently to account for the 
hatred and scorn which the ruling priestly caste strove to keep up 
against them ; and it was probably in order to discourage all inter- 
course that the regulation precluding Egyptians from eating with them 
was first established.' 

Note. The question whether one of the Hyksos kings was on the 
throne at the time of Joseph and the migration of Jacob's family, is 
treated in another paragraph. Wallis Budge, M.A., estimating care- 
fully the evidence, says, 'The last king of the twelfth dynasty was 



SENNACHERI&S CALAMITY. 37 

Amenemha IV. ; and from this period (about 2200 B.C.) to the 
eighteenth dynasty there is a gap of about 500 years. It is during 
this break that the rule of the Hyksos or " Shepherd Kings " comes 
in. But the Hyksos only preserved their power for some 260 years. 



Sennacherib's Calamity. 

2 KINGS xix. 35 : ' And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord 
went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five 
thousand : and when men arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead 
corpses.' Rev. Ver. 

2 CHRON. xxxii. 21 : 'And the Lord sent an angel, which cut off all the mighty 
men of valour, and the leaders and captains, in the camp of the king of Assyria. 
So he returned with shame efface to his own land.' 

Difficulty, One of these accounts seems to intimate that the great 
mass of the army was slain ; the other appears to limit the slaughter 
to the officers. 

Explanation. The note in Chronicles is evidently only a brief 
epitome of the incident, and, as it gives no special details, cannot be 
regarded as in any sense contradictory of the accounts in 2 Kings 
xix., or Isaiah xxxvii. 36. It is an accepted rule for all historical 
compositions, that what is omitted by one author shall not be regarded 
as contradicting what is stated by another author, unless it is plainly 
inconsistent. The author of Chronicles, in stating that the ' officers ' 
perished, does not deny that the ' common soldiers ' also perished ; 
and, whatever was the agent used for the infliction ' of this judgment, 
it is hardly conceivable that it would be limited, in its range, to the 
leaders. What we are to understand is, that the loss was so utterly 
overwhelming because amongst the slain were all the principal 
officers. 

Herodotus gives the Egyptian version of this calamity. ' Senna- 
cherib, king of the Arabians and Assyrians, marched a large army 
into Egypt. On this the Egyptian army refused to help their king, 
Sethon, a priest of Vulcan. He, therefore, being reduced to a strait, 
entered the temple and lamented before the god the calamities 
impending. While thus engaged he fell asleep, and the god appeared 
to him in a vision, telling him that he would stand by him, and 
encouraging him by the assurance that he should not suffer, since he, 
the god, would send him help. Trusting this vision, the priest-king 
took with him such men as would follow him, and shut himself up in 
Pelusium, at the entrance of Egypt. But when they arrived there 
myriads of field-mice, pouring in on their enemies, devoured their 
quivers and bows and the handles of their shields, so that when they 



38 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

fled next day, defenceless, many of them were killed ; and to this 
day a stone statue of this king stands in the temple of Vulcan, with 
a mouse in his hand, and an inscription : " Whoever looks on me, let 
him revere the gods." ' 

Kitto says : ' Either some terrible known agency, such as that of the 
pestilence, or the hot poisonous wind, was employed, or some 
extraordinary and unknown operation took place. Berosus says that 
it was a pestilence. It has been objected that no pestilence is so 
suddenly destructive. Yet we do read of instantaneously destructive 
pestilence in Scripture, as in the wilderness and at Bethshemesh ; and 
it may be remarked, even of the natural pestilence, that under that 
disease death supervenes at a certain number of days (not more in 
any case than seven), from the commencement ; and if, therefore, any 
number of men were smitten with it at one time, they would all die at 
the same period, or within a very few hours of each other. If this 
were the case here, the Assyrians who died before Jerusalem may 
have been smitten with the pestilence before they left Egypt. But 
we do not think that it was the plague. The almost immediately 
mortal pestilence so often mentioned in Scripture, and known from 
other ancient authorities, was clearly not the plague the symptoms 
described do not agree with those of the plague ; and it is probably 
an extinct disease. It is not now known, even in the East, though there 
is abundant evidence in history, tale, and song, of its former existence. 
Of the glandular plague, the present prevailing epidemic of the East, 
there is no certain trace in history anterior to the third century, even 
in Egypt. Some suggest the agency of the simoon, the hot, pes- 
tilential, desert wind ; but this does not usually affect Palestine. Its 
effects sometimes prove instantly fatal, the corpse being livid or 
black, like that of a person blasted by lightning ; at other times it 
produces putrid fevers, which become mortal in a few hours, and very 
few of those struck recover.' 

Dean Stanley says : ' By what special means this great destruction 
was effected, with how large or how small a remnant Sennacherib 
returned, is not told. It might be a pestilential blast (Isai. xxxvii. 7), 
according to the analogy by which a pestilence is usually described 
in Scripture under the image of a destroying angel (Ps. Ixxviii. 49 . 
2 Sam. xxiv. 16) ; and the numbers are not greater than are recorded 
as perishing within very short periods 150,000 Carthaginians in 
Sicily, 500,000 in seven months at Cairo. It might be accompanied 
by a storm. So Vitringa understood it, and this would best suit 
the words in Isaiah xxx. 29. Such is the Talmudic tradition, accord- 
ing to which the stones were still to be seen in the pass of Bethoron 



SENNACHERIB S CALAMITY. 39 

up which Sennacherib was supposed to be advancing with his 
army.' 

Geikie gathers up some important information. * The vast 
multitude who perished 185,000 men points to a far greater 
calamity than could have befallen the army corps detached for 
service against Jerusalem. It seems probable that affairs had not 
prospered with Sennacherib from the first, in spite of his pompous 
inscriptions. Indeed, it appears as if this could be read between the 
lines ; for, though he boasts of having gained a victory at Eltekeh, no 
list of prisoners or details of the booty are given, and he has to con- 
tent himself with stating that he took the town of Eltekeh, and 
Timnah, which very possibly was only an unwalled village. He 
speaks of having shut up Hezekiah like a bird in a cage, but there is 
nothing said of the capture of Jerusalem, nor of the conquest of 
Egypt, or even of his having entered it, though this was the great 
object of the campaign. It seems probable that, after the doubtful 
triumph at Eltekeh, Sennacherib contented himself with besieging 
and taking Lachish with part of his army ; a large force being sent 
on, possibly, towards Egypt, while a corps was detached against 
Jerusalem. But the plague, which had perhaps already shown itself in 
the host, appears to have broken out violently in its different sections 
before Jerusalem, beyond Eltekeh, and at Libnah, to which the head- 
quarters had been removed on the fall of Lachish. The Jewish 
tradition, handed down from generation to generation, understood the 
language of Scripture as indicating an outbreak of pestilence, let 
loose, as in the case of the similar visitation of Jerusalem under David, 
by the angel of God specially commissioned to inflict the Divine 
wrath. . . . Instead of the thousands of mail-clad warriors, lately so 
eager for the battle, only a terrified remnant could marshal round 
him. His mighty men of valour the rank and file of his proudest 
battalions his officers and generals, had been struck down. . . . 
Deserted by heaven, and left to the fury of the dreaded demons of 
pestilence and death, the panic-stricken king could think of nothing 
but instant, though ignominious, flight towards Nineveh, where he 
might hope to appease his gods. Orderly retreat was impossible. 
The skeleton battalions were too demoralized. A deadly fear had 
seized the survivors. The spectacle in each camp was too appalling 
to leave room for hesitation.' 

Sennacherib lived for twenty years after his withdrawal from 
Palestine. 



40 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 



Darius the Median. 

DANIEL v. 31 : ' And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about three 
score and two years old.' 

Difficulty. No person evidently answering to this description 
appears in the records of Persian or Median history. 

Explanation. Dean Stanley says that ' Darius the Mede is still 
an unsolved problem.' The secular history says that Cyrus, after the 
capture of Babylon, appointed a man named Gubaru (Gobryas) as 
his governor in Babylon. The question is whether this Gubaru and 
Darius can possibly be the same person. Certainly Darius cannot 
be identified with any person mentioned in profane history, and 
hitherto no traces of any such name have been found in Babylonian 
inscriptions belonging to this period. 

The part of the inscription of Cyrus that refers to this matter reads 
as follows : * On the third day of Marchesvan (October), Cyrus 
entered Babylon. The roads (?) before him were covered. He 
grants peace to the city, to the whole of Babylon Cyrus proclaims 
peace. Gobryas, his governor, was appointed over the (other) 
governors in Babylon, and from the month Chisleu (November) to 
the month Adar (February) the gods of Accad, whom Nabonidus 
had brought to Babylon, were restored to their shrines. On the 
eleventh day of the previous Marchesvan, Gobryas (was appointed) 
over Babylon, and the King Nabonidus died.' 

But we cannot be sure that the death of Belshazzar was connected 
with the taking of Babylon by Cyrus on this occasion ; and history 
gives no record of any Median kingdom intervening between the 
Babylonian and the Persian Empires. The readiest explanation is 
found by treating Darius as a deposed king, or a royal relative of 
Cyrus, and assuming that he was appointed chief governor of the 
conquered province of Babylon, with the courtesy title of ' king,' his 
official name being Darius, his personal name Gobryas. But this is 
assumption, and cannot be called knowledge. 

The only Darius of this date known in history is Darius the son of 
Hystaspes, who was the real founder of the Persian Empire; and 
some think he is the ' Darius ' of the Book of Daniel. The dates 
may be first given, and then Sayce's account of this Darius 
Hystaspes. 

Cyrus takes Babylon, 538 B.C. 

Cambyses, his son, reigns 529-519 (eleven years). 

Smerdis, the Magian, reigns seven months. 

Darius Hystaspes, the Persian, reigus 517-486 (thirty-one years). 



DARIUS THE MEDIAN. 41 

' The Empire of Cyrus was broken up after the death of Cambyses, 
and had to be reconquered by Darius Hystaspes. Darius was a 
Zoroastrian monotheist as well as a Persian, and under him and his 
successors polytheism ceased to be the religion of the State. Twice 
during his reign he had to besiege Babylon. Hardly had he been 
proclaimed king when it revolted under a certain Nidinta Bel, who 
called himself, " Nebuchadrezzar, the son of Nabonidus." Babylon 
endured a siege of two years, and was at last captured by Darius only 
by the help of a stratagem. Six years afterwards it again rose in 
revolt, under an Armenian, who professed, like his predecessor, to be 
" Nebuchadrezzar, the son of Nabonidus." Once more, however, it 
was besieged and taken, and this time the pretender was put to death 
by impalement. His predecessor, Nidinta Bel, seems to have been 
slain while the Persian troops were forcing their way into the captured 
city. In Nidinta Bel the line of independent Babylonian Kings may 
be said to have come to an end, since the leader of the second revolt 
was not a native, but an Armenian settler.' 

Quite an attractive theory might be constructed on the basis of 
the identification of Nidinta Bel, who called himself a 'son of 
Nebuchadrezzar,' with Belshazzar ; and of Darius the Median with 
Darius, the son of Hystaspes, the Persian. But there are serious 
difficulties to overcome before such a theory can be accepted. Two 
especially need attention. The Darius of Scripture is called the ' son 
of Ahasuerus.' But Darius Hystaspes was the son of Achaemenes, 
the founder of the Persian Royal Family. Then the Darius of 
Scripture is said to have been ' of the seed of the Medes ' (Dan. ix. i). 
But there is the strongest evidence that Darius Hystaspes was of pure 
Persian race, and not an atom of evidence that he had any Persian 
blood in his veins. It is among his proudest boasts that he is an 
' Aryan, of Aryan descent, a Persian, the son of a Persian.' 

The explanation that is perhaps the most generally accepted is thus 
stated by Professor George Rawlinson : 'It is said, in Dan. v. 31, 
that " Darius the Median took the kingdom, and in ix. i, that he 
" was made king over the realm of the Chaldaeans." Neither of these 
two expressions is suitable to Cyrus (with whom some would 
identify Darius, making out Darius to be a royal title). The word 
translated "took" means "received," "took from the hands of 
another ;" and the other passage is yet more unmistakable. " Was 
made king," exactly expresses the original, which uses the Hophal of 
the verb, the Hiphel of which occurs when David makes Solomon 
king over Israel (i Chron. xxix. 20). No one would say of Alexander 
the Great, when he conquered Darius Codomannus, that he "was 



42 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

made king over Persia." The expression implies the reception of a 
kingly position by one man from the hands of another. Now 
Babylon, while under the Assyrians, had been almost always governed 
by viceroys, who received their crown from the Assyrian monarchs. 
It was not unnatural that Cyrus should follow the same system. He 
had necessarily to appoint a governor, and the " Nabonidus Tablet " 
tells us that he did so almost immediately after taking possession of 
the city. The first governor appointed was a certain Gobryas, whose 
nationality is doubtful ; but he appears to have been shortly after- 
wards sent to some other locality. A different arrangement must 
then have been made. That Cyrus should have appointed a Mede, 
and allowed him to take the title of " King," is in no way improbable. 
He was fond of appointing Medes to high office, as we learn from 
Herodotus. He was earnestly desirous of conciliating the Babylonians, 
as we find from his cylinder. 

' It was not many years before he gave his son, Cambyses, the full 
royal power at Babylon, relinquishing it himself, as appears from a 
dated tablet. The position of " Darius the Median " in Daniel is 
compatible with all that we know with any certainty from other 
sources. We have only to suppose that Cyrus, in the interval between 
the brief governorship of Gobryas and the sovereignty of Cambyses, 
placed Babylon under a Median noble named Darius, and allowed 
him a position intermediate between that of a mere ordinary "governor" 
and the full royal authority.' 

But, if we accept this explanation, it remains to consider whether 
we can further identify this Darius, and find out the relationship in 
which he stood to Cyrus. The most satisfactory theory is that 
attested by Josephus and Xenophon. ' According to these historians, 
Cyrus conquered Babylon for his father-in-law, Cyaxares II., the son 
of Astyages, and did not come to the throne of Babylon as an inde- 
pendent prince till after his death. Josephus mentions that Darius 
was known to the Greeks by another name ; and this, it has been 
concluded, was Cyaxares, the name given to him by Xenophon.' 

Dr. C. Geikie summarizes the knowledge which is at present at 
command very effectively : ' The transition from the Chaldaean dynasty 
to the rule of the conquerors followed at once, for resistance appears 
to have ceased after the taking of Babylon. Cyrus was now supreme 
over all Asia, from India to the Dardanelles ; but, though the moving 
spirit of this vast revolution, the obscurity of his original position as 
king only of Elam, and his relations to the Medes, and perhaps the 
Persians, seem to have led him for the time to deny himself the 
titular sovereignty. A Median prince appears, therefore, to have 



DARIUS THE MEDIAN. 43 

been put forward by him as the nominal king, though the real power 
remained in his own hands. Elam and Persia had been hitherto 
very inferior in power and rank to Media, the haughty clans of which 
followed him rather as their adopted chief than as their conqueror, 
and the time was not yet ripe for affronting this proud assumption of 
independence. Cyrus had gained the leadership by affecting to 
liberate Media from a tyrannical despot, and the support of the 
aristocracy and army had been won only by his diplomacy. A 
Median prince was therefore established for the time as king in 
Babylon Darius, the son of Ahasuerus, or Cyaxares, a childless and 
easily-managed man of sixty-two. Two years later this phantom king 
died, and no further opposition to the accession of Cyrus, as an 
Elamite, being possible, he openly assumed the empire.' 

As a caution, we add a sentence from a note by Deane: 'In 
modern times the identity of Darius with Cyaxares II. has been 
strongly maintained, though without paying sufficient attention to the 
very slight evidence in favour of the existence of the latter.' 

The fact is, that no absolute decision can be made in relation to 
either Belshazzar, or Darius the Mede, until we can be sure which 
fall of Babylon is referred to in the Book of Daniel, and what is its 
precise date. The materials for forming such a decision are certainly 
not at present within our reach ; and we must be satisfied with what 
may seem to us the most reasonable explanatory theory. 



Esau's Wives. 

GENESIS xxxvi. 2, 3 : ' Esau took his wives of the daughters of Canaan ; Adah, 
the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Aholibamah, the daughter of Anah, the 
daughter of Zibeon the Hivite ; and Bashemath, Ishmael's daughter, sister of 
Nebajoth.' 

Question. Are we to understand that Esau thus deliberately cut 
himself, and his descendants, off from all share in the rights and 
privileges of the Abrahamic covenant '? And how can this list of names 
be reconciled with the lists given in xxvi. 34 ; xxviii. 9 ? 

Answer. The verse heading this paragraph belongs to a 
genealogical table. For the history we must refer to the earlier 
notices. As indicating the wild, wayward, wilful, impulsive character 
of Esau, we are told of the indifference he showed to his birthright, 
as eldest born, and the readiness with which, under stress of hunger, 
he sold that birthright to Jacob for * bread and pottage of lentils ' 
(Gen. xxv. 29-34). It has become the fashion to compare Jacob 
unfavourably with Esau ; and to praise Esau in a very uncritical 



44 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

fashion. It is not sufficiently noticed that Scripture exhibits his 
character in this incident, and it cannot be regarded as commendable. 
The man who has no restraint of his animal appetites, is not likely to 
have restraint of his bodily passions, or mastery of his will and moral 
nature. And, lest we should form this unfavourable comparison 
between Jacob and Esau, we are carefully informed of the troubles 
that Esau's wilfulness, lack of self-control, and indifference to all 
higher considerations, made in the family, before Jacob guilefully 
secured the 'blessing.' In Gen. xxvi. 34, 35, we read: 'and Esau 
was forty years old when he took to wife Judith, the daughter of 
Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath, the daughter of Elon the Hittite, 
which were a grief of mind (bitterness of spirit) unto Isaac and to 
Rebekah.' 

It may be said that the grief of Isaac was caused by Esau offend- 
ing against tribal sentiment, which required the leading family of a 
tribe to marry only within the tribe, or strictly allied tribes, in order 
to preserve the exclusiveness of each race. But the Scripture 
records must always be read in the light of the Jehovah covenant. 
Isaac regarded Esau as, not only the tribal heir, but as the covenant- 
heir, and his marriage to Canaanite women was a distinct and wilful 
offence against the covenant conditions, an open declaration that 
Esau despised the covenant if it interfered with his following the 
' devices and desires of his own heart.' 

This comes out yet more clearly in the conduct of Esau, when he 
found he had lost the patriarchal blessing, as well as the birthright. 
His act then was a violent expression of the c don't care ' spirit as 
if he had said, ' What is your covenant to me ? I can get along 
very well without it. Take your birthright, and your blessing, and your 
covenant. My own energy and enterprise shall stand to me instead 
of birthright and blessing and covenant.' There is every intimation 
that Esau meant to wash his hands of the whole covenant business, 
by going and taking to wife the daughter of Ishmael. The passage 
(Gen. xxviii. 6-9) gains its explanation when read in this light. 
' When Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob, and sent him away 
to Padan-aram, to take him a wife from thence ; and that as he 
blessed him he gave him a charge, saying, Thou shalt not take a 
wife of the daughters of Canaan ; and that Jacob obeyed his father 
and his mother, and was gone to Padan-aram ; and Esau seeing that 
the daughters of Canaan pleased not Isaac his father ; then went 
Esau unto Ishmael, and took unto the wives which he had Mahalath 
the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham's son, the sister of Nebajoth, to 
be his wife.' 



ESAU'S WIVES. 



45 



Seetzen says of the Arabs : * They always marry in their own tribe, 
not allowing any member of it to marry into another.' 

Dr. C. Geikie supports the view we have taken of the relation of 
Esau's conduct to the covenant. ' The marriages of the patriarchal 
families decided the history of their subsequent branches. Quiet 
progress from households of shepherds to a settled nation turned 
necessarily on the life adopted, and that again was largely affected by 
the domestic alliances made. The daughter of Bethuel, coming 
from the " city " of Nahor, must have brought with her the instincts 
of a settled life, and so, also, with the daughters of Laban, Bethuel's 
son. But what instincts could grow up in the children of Ishmael 
or Esau, except those of the wild, unimproving Arab ; born as they 
were of idolatrous mothers, wherever the wandering camp of their 
parents chanced for the time to be pitched ? It was a Divine impulse, 
therefore, which, acting through the Eastern craving for unmixed 
blood, led to the choice of brides, for Isaac and Jacob, from the old 
home of the race. Esau's leanings were only too plain in his bring- 
ing home two Hittite maidens as wives. It was clear that the tradi- 
tions of Abraham and Isaac had no hold on him, and that their 
worship of the One only God, to whom he himself had been 
dedicated by circumcision, was nothing in his eyes. To build up a 
chosen race, the heirs of the Divine covenant, involved strict separa- 
tion from the heathen around ; but Esau, with this knowledge, had 
deliberately forsaken his own race, with all its hopes and aspirations, 
and identified himself with those from whom God had required them 
to keep themselves distinct. No wonder that it was "bitterness of 
heart " to both Isaac and Rebekah, to see him thus break away from 
all they counted most sacred, and despise his birthright by slighting 
the conditions which God had imposed for its inheritance.' 

The lists of Esau's wives are as follows : 



GEN. xxvi. 34 ; xxviii. 9 : 

1. Judith, daughter of Beerithe Hittite. 

2. Bashemath, daughter of Elon the 

Hittite. 

3. Mahalath, daughter of Ishmael, sister 

of Nebajoth. 



GEN. xxxvi. 2 : 

1. Aholibamah, daughter of Anah, 

daughter of Zibeon the Hivite. 

2. Adah, daughter of Elon the Hittite. 

3. Bashemath, daughter of Ishmael, 

sister of Nebajoth. 



There is manifest confusion of names. It is easy to recognise the 
daughter of Elon, and the daughter of Ishmael, and to give them 
their right names, or assume that they had two names. But the first 
wife is not so readily recognisable. Not only do the names differ, 
but also the parentage, and even the tribe to which the women 
belonged. 



46 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

Suggestions in explanation are that ' daughter of Zibeon ' should 
read ' son of Zibeon,' that Anah having discovered ' hot springs ' (true 
reading of word mules, in verse 24), was also called Beeri, or the 
* well-finder ;' that an error in copying made Hivite for Hittite ; or 
that the general name Hittite included the Hivites and Horites. 

* We may conclude that Judith the daughter of Anah, called Beeri, 
from his finding the hot springs, and the grand-daughter of Zibeon 
the Horite, one of the tribes reckoned in the great Hittite family, 
when she married Esau, assumed the name of Aholibamah, mean- 
ing, " the tent of the height." ' 

Judgments in the order of Providence. 

2 KINGS vii. 19, 20 : 'And that lord answered the man of God, and said, Now, 
behold, if the Lord should make windows in heaven, might such a thing be ? And 
he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof. And 
so it fell out unto him : for the people trode upon him in the gate.' 

2 KINGS ix. 25, 26 : ' Then said Jehu to Bidkar his captain, Take up and cast 
him (Jehoram) in the portion of the field of Naboth the Jezreelite ; for remember 
how that when I and thou rode together after Ahab his father, the Lord laid this 
burden upon him ; surely I have seen yesterday the blood of Naboth, and the 
blood of his sons, saith the Lord, and I will requite thee in this plat, saith the 
Lord.' 

Question. Are we justified^ from such cases of manifest fulfil- 
ment of prophecy ', in establishing as a truth that God's providences 
are ever being used to work out God s judgments ? 

Answer. This certainly appears to be the teaching of the in- 
cidents narrated. No sign is given of any special interference with 
the workings of Providence, and yet they bring round precisely what 
had been foretold. It does not seem possible to assert more firmly 
that moral purposes are being outwrought by the common and 
ordinary movements and changes of men and nations. In these 
cases before us, the precision of fulfilment, even in detail, is evidently 
designed to make the connection between providence and judgment 
very clear and impressive. 

It is the fashion now to see, in what our fathers called ' Providence,' 
only the systematic working of ordinary laws. Bible history and 
prophecy are the constant appeal against the imprisoning of our minds 
in any mere mechanical explanation of the universe. In some cases 
it tells us beforehand what God is going to do, so that when the 
event comes round, in the ordinary way of providence, we may make 
no mistake about it, but fully recognise the Divine over-rulings. 

It may be quite true that the Divine purpose in providence is not 
revealed to anyone of us in these days. But it is enough that the 
connection has been fully established, in the Divine Word, by illustra- 



JUDGMENTS IN THE ORDER OF PROVIDENCE. 47 

tive instances such as those now before us. In the principles accord- 
ing to which He orders and governs this material world, and the 
moral world in its relation to the material, God is certainly the 
* Unchangeable one.' 

The point illustrated in the above incidents will be more clearly 
seen, if the incidents themselves are carefully examined. 

There was a famine of extraordinary severity in Samaria, in con- 
sequence of a prolonged siege by the Syrians. The extremities to 
which the people were reduced are vigorously described. They were 
so dreadful that even motherly instincts were overpowered. In his 
anger, the king thought to make a scapegoat of Elisha the Prophet. 
Instead of turning to God in penitence and prayer, the king, in 
ungovernable rage, tried to defy God by attempting to kill His 
prophet. He failed, and the response Elisha was told to make 
surprises us. God proposed to relieve the dire necessities of the 
people, but in connection with His mercy there should be a stern 
rebuke of the sin of mistrusting God, which the king and the people 
would do well to heed. ' Elisha said, Hear ye the word of the Lord ; 
Thus saith the Lord, To-morrow about this time shall a measure of 
fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a 
shekel, in the gate of Samaria. Then a lord on whose hand the king 
leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if the Lord 
would make windows in heaven, might this thing be ? And he said, 
Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.' 

Now, the lord was, from the human view of things, quite right. 
Ordinary providences could not be expected to bring round either 
such a relief, or such a judgment, as Elisha anticipated. But God is 
in providence ; controls its workings, and controls them for moral 
ends. He could shape the providences, adjust them, refit them 
together, so as to accomplish the promised deliverance, and to bring 
down the threatened judgment. There is the Divine Will even 
in orderly providence. 

The second instance is connected with the judgment of God on Ahab 
and his house, for all his crimes, but more especially for his iniquity 
in the matter of Naboth the Jezreelite. Here, too, we have antece- 
dent judgment spoken, but no special provision made for the execu- 
tion of the judgment. It was left to providence to work round the 
carrying out of the Divine sentence. And providence proved to be 
effective for the operation of the Divine will, because the Divine will 
was in the ordering of the providences. Events now can no more 
be separated from the Divine mind and control, than in the olden 
times. Providence is still, as ever, the Divine instrumentality. 



48 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

Meeting Ahab, when returning from taking possession of Naboth's 
vineyard, Elijah solemnly declared that he and his house must be 
punished for their crimes. As for himself, the town dogs would lick 
up his blood where they had licked the blood of poor stoned Naboth. 
Jezebel and her sons would be left exposed to the dogs and vultures ; 
and some special form of woe upon his house should be connected 
with that very plot of ground, for the sake of which he had soiled his 
hands with blood. 

Exactly what Elijah referred to was only known through the fulfil- 
ment of his threat. ' Joram,' the king, the son of Ahab, ' learning 
that the furious driving of an approaching company marked the 
cavalcade as attending Jehu, and suspecting no treachery, ordered his 
own chariot, and rode out to meet him, accompanied by King 
Ahaziah of Judah, then at Jezreel to sympathize with his wounded 
uncle. They expected stirring news from Ramoth, and were eager to 
hear it. " Had Hazael made peace ?" shouted Joram as he came 
near. "Peace!" cried Jehu, "what peace can there be as long 
as Jezebel acts so wickedly as she does ?" Joram felt in a moment 
that all was lost. Muttering the words, "Treachery, Ahaziah," he 
turned the chariot and hastily fled. But an arrow from Jehu pierced 
him through and through next moment, and he fell out of his chariot 
dying, close to the very field of Naboth in which Elijah had said that 
the crime of Ahab should be avenged. To stop and cast the body 
into Naboth's ground, that the words of the prophet might be literally 
fulfilled, detained Jehu but for a moment.' 

It is true that * God's providence is our inheritance,' but it is also 
true that God's providence is, in His hands, the instrument of our 
judgment. 

Balaam's Prophecy. 

NUMBERS xxiv. 17 : ' I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but 
not nigh : there shall come a star out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall rise out of 
Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of 
Sheth.' 

Difficulty. If this prophecy refers to Messiah, the work he is 
expected to do is presented in very unusual and extravagant figures. 

Explanation. What appears to be certain is, that this part of 
the prophecy of Balaam found its first fulfilment in the military 
triumphs of David. Only through the figures of speech suitable to 
\h\sfirst fulfilment can we get references to Messiah, and then they 
must be treated in a large and suggestive manner. The terms ' star 
out of Jacob,' and ' sceptre out of Israel,' can readily be adapted to 



BALAAM'S PROPHECY. 49 

the Messiah ; but it requires great ingenuity to fit ' smiting the 
corners of Moab,' and ' destroying the children of Sheth,' into any 
conceivable description of the work of Messiah. 

It was, indeed, no part of the mission of Balaam to proclaim the 
Messiah. The subject-matter of his prophecy was the certain triumph 
of the race on whose tents he gazed. It was befitting that his vision 
should culminate in that king who brought the nation to the height 
of its dignity. So far as David was a type of Messiah, we may say 
that the Messiah was referred to in Balaam's prophecy. But we had 
better regard the mental vision of Balaam as limited to the career ot 
David. 

Ibn Ezra interprets these words of David. For David's conquest 
of the Moabites, see 2 Sam. viii. 2. The expression 'children of Sheth/ 
would be better translated ' sons of tumult.' David's military successes 
may be briefly summarized. The Philistines were the first to be 
attacked, and upon David's taking their royal city of Gath, they seem 
to have been so far subdued as to give him little or no subsequent 
trouble. On the south-east of his kingdom David repressed the 
Edomites, and established garrisons in their country, securing thus 
the eastern arm of the Red Sea, and the caravan routes to the marts 
and harbours of Arabia. On the north-east, David attacked 
Hadadezer, King of Zobah, defeating him with great loss. East of 
Jordan, David attacked the Moabites. But the chief war of his 
reign was that conducted against Ammon. The result of these wars 
was the extension of the territories of Canaan to the limits foretold 
to Abraham, and so the fulfilment of the Divine promise. The list 
of David's successes closely follows the prophecy of Balaam. 

Bishop Wordsworth says that the Messianic reference of this, and 
the following verse, is now recognised by Rosenmuller, Baumgarten, 
Delitzsch, Kurtz, Tholuck, and Keil. The passage he regards as 
' fulfilled primarily and partially by David, and perfectly and finally 
by the Son of David, the Christ, the King of kings, who has already 
made great conquests by His Gospel over the whole world, and will 
eventually put all Moabites the enemies of His Israel under His 
feet.' But however excellent this may be as a sentiment, it involves 
a curious distortion of a plain historical reference to the actual 
countries of Moab and Edom. Surely it is better to say the Star was 
David, and the sceptre the symbol of his rule ; and then find the 
fulfilment of the prophecy in the history. 



So HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 



Identification of So, King of Egypt. 

2 KINGS xvii. 4 : ' And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea : for he 
had sent messengers to So, king of Egypt, and brought no present to the king of 
Assyria, as he had done year by year ; therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, 
and bound him in prison.' 

Difficulty. The Egyptian lists of kings have no such name as So ; 
and the name nearest like it stands for a king of a later dynasty. 

Explanation. Professor George Rawlinson suggests a satis- 
factory removal of this difficulty. ' It is not very easy to identify the 
" King of Egypt " here mentioned, as one with whom Hoshea, the 
son of Elah, sought to ally himself, with any of the known Pharaohs. 
" So " is a name that seems at first sight very unlike those borne by 
Egyptian monarchs, which are never monosyllabic, and in no case 
end in the letter o. A reference to the Hebrew text removes, how- 
ever, much of the difficulty, since the word rendered by " So " in our 
version is found to be one of three letters, KID (S V A), all of which 
may be consonants. (Our readers are aware that, in the older 
Hebrew, the vowels were not marked ' in the writing.) As the 
Masoretic pointing (or putting of vowels to words), which our trans- 
lators followed, is of small authority, and in proper names of scarcely 
any authority at all, we are entitled to give to each of the three letters 
its consonant force, and, supplying short vowels, to render the Hebrew 
word, S V A, by "Seven." Now " Seveh " is very near indeed to 
the Manethonian "Sevech-us," whom the Sebennytic priest makes 
the second monarch of his twenty-fifth dynasty ; and " Sevechus " is 
a natural Greek equivalent of the Egyptian "Shebek " or "Shabak," 
a name borne by a well-known Pharaoh (the first king of the same 
dynasty), which both Herodotus and Manetho render by "Sabacos." 
It has been generally allowed that So (or Seveh) must represent one 
or other of these, but critics are not yet agreed which is to be pre- 
ferred of the two. (The general opinion is in favour of Shabak.)' 

In his latest work on ' Egypt,' Professor Rawlinson gives a sketch 
of the twenty-fifth, an Ethiopian dynasty. { Piankhi, soon after his 
return to his capital, died without leaving issue ; and the race of 
Herhor being now extinct, the Ethiopians had to elect a king from 
the number of their own nobles. Their choice fell on a certain 
Kashta, a man of little energy, who allowed Egypt to throw off the 
Ethiopian sovereignty without making any effort to prevent it. Bek- 
en-ranf, the son of Tafnekht, was the leader of this successful re- 
bellion, and is said to have reigned over all Egypt for six years. 
He got a name for wisdom and justice, but he could not alter that 



IDENTIFICATION OF SO, KING OF EGYPT. 51 

condition of affairs which had been gradually brought about by the 
slow working of various more or less occult causes, whereby Ethiopia 
had increased, and Egypt diminished in power, their relative strength, 
as compared with former times, having become inverted. Ethiopia, 
being now the stronger, was sure to reassert herself, and did so in 
Bek-en-ranf's seventh year. Shabak, the son of Kashta, whose 
character was cast in a far stronger mould than that of his father, 
having mounted the Ethiopian throne, lost no time in swooping down 
upon Egypt from the upper region, and, carrying all before him, 
besieged and took Sai's, made Bek-en-ranf a prisoner, and barbarously 
burnt him alive for his rebellion. His fierce and sensuous physi- 
ognomy is quite in keeping with this bloody deed, which was well 
calculated to strike terror into the Egyptian nation, and to ensure a 
general submission. The rule of the Ethiopians was now, for some 
fifty years, firmly established. Shabak founded a dynasty which the 
Egyptians themselves admitted to be legitimate, and which the 
historian Manetho declared to have consisted of three kings Sabacos 
(or Shabak), Sevechus (or Shabatok), and Taracus (or Tehrak), the 
Hebrew Tirhakah. The extant monuments confirm the names, and 
order of succession, of these monarchs. They were of a coarser and 
ruder fibre than the native Egyptians, but they did not rule Egypt in any 
alien or hostile spirit. On the contrary, they were pious worshippers 
of the old Egyptian gods; they repaired and beautified the old 
Egyptian temples ; and, instead of ruling Egypt, as a conquered 
province, from Napata, they resided permanently, or at any rate 
occasionally, at the Egyptian capitals, Thebes and Memphis. There 
are certain indications which make it probable that to some extent 
they pursued the policy of Piankhi, and governed Lower Egypt by 
means of tributary kings, who held their courts at Sai's, Tanis, and 
perhaps Bubastis. But they kept a jealous watch over their subject 
princes, and allowed none of them to attain a dangerous pre- 
eminence.' 

Geikie prefers to regard * So ' as the second king of this dynasty, 
and gives the following reasons for his opinion : ' A strong Egyptian 
faction existed in Samaria ; perhaps in part from the old tradition of 
Jeroboam I. having found a home on the Nile in his exile, and 
having brought thence an Egyptian queen, but, still more, from the 
wily diplomacy of the Pharaohs, whose agents in all the courts of 
Palestine constantly urged alliance with their masters, and promised 
their help to any who refused to pay tribute to Assyria. In his 
difficult position, Hoshea seems to have tried to keep favour with the 
Great King (of Assyria), while secretly treating for assistance from So, 

42 



52 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

or Savah, of Egypt, the second king of the Ethiopian dynasty, in a 
projected revolt. Savah is called, in Sargon's annals, " The Sultan," 
and is distinguished from " the Pharaoh, the King of Egypt." He was, 
in fact, the lord paramount, with an Egyptian king under him, at 
Tanis, besides many other petty kings throughout the valley of the 
Nile and the Delta. The affix ka was added in Egypt to the names 
of the Ethiopian kings. It is the article. Thus Seveh, or Schava, 
becomes Schabaka. In the Bible this is contracted to So. On the 
Assyrian monuments to Schava. Savah, though the second king of 
the dynasty, was regarded as its real founder, from his ability and 
deeds.' 

Dr. Lumby confirms this view. ' In the Assyrian records (Smith, 
Assyrian Canon, p. 126) there appears an Egyptian general, whose 
name is represented as Sabakhi or Sibahe. He is represented as 
helping the King of Gaza against Assyria and being overthrown. This 
may be the person here spoken of.' Date about 720 B.C. 

The objection to the identification of So with the Sabaco of 
Herodotus is, that Sabaco did not reign so early. Manetho puts 
him only twenty-four years before Tirhakah, whose first year was 690 
B.C. But Manetho's numbers cannot be relied on. 

The Speaker's Commentary says : ' Like other founders of dynasties, 
as Shishak and Psammeticus, So would be likely to revive the old 
Egyptian claims on Syria, and to take advantage of any opening that 
offered, in order to reassert those sovereign rights, which Egypt never 
forgot, though she had often to let them remain in abeyance. In 
the inscriptions of Shebek he boasts to have received tribute from the 
" King of Shara " (Syria), which is probably his mode of noticing 
Hoshea's application.' 

The Mysterious Figure of Melchizedek. 

GENESIS xiv. 18 : 'And Melchizedek, King of Salem, brought forth bread and 
wine ; and he was the priest of the most high God.' 

Question. Are we to regard Melchizedek as an historical, or as a 
legendary figure ? 

Answer. Probably in this case there is an historical basis, about 
which legends have gathered, and it is now nearly impossible to detach 
the history from the legend. 

W. J. Deane says : ' Round this personage tradition has gathered 
a crop of legends which have no credibility in themselves, and no 
foundation in history. There are difficulties in this narrative 
(Gen. xiv. 18-20), the solution of which has never been successfully 



THE MYSTERIOUS FIGURE OF MELCH1ZEDEK. 53 

attained. The presence of Melchizedek, " priest of the Most High 
God " (El Elyon), in the midst of the probably heathen population of 
Salem, is perplexing. We are scarcely prepared for the sudden 
appearance of this Cohen (priest), offering bread and wine in connec- 
tion with the first fruits of the spoil, as Philo observes, blessing 
Abram, and receiving tithes from the patriarch. We have long 
looked upon Abram as the one witness to Monotheism among an 
idolatrous people, and to see him holding a position inferior to this 
hitherto unknown chieftain is an unexpected difficulty. Who he was, 
of what family, or nation, is left in utter obscurity. Suddenly he 
comes forth in the page of history for one brief moment, and then 
his name is heard no more for a thousand years, when it is found in 
the Book of Psalms (Ps. ex.) ; a thousand years more passed before 
it occurs in the Epistle to the Hebrew ; so that there is a mystery 
connected therewith, which gives to it a preponderating interest and 
charm. As to the person and nationality of Melchizedek, different 
opinions have been held, and nothing can with absolute certainty be 
determined. Some heretics, we are told, considered him to have 
been the Holy Ghost ; Origen and Didymus deemed him an angel ; 
the Jews, in order to account for his acknowledged superiority to 
Abram, identified him with Shem, the most pious of Noah's sons, 
who, according to their genealogies, lived till Isaac's time. Some 
Christians, both in early and later times, have maintained that 
he was the Son of God appearing in human form. There is no 
reason to doubt that he was an historical personage. As to his 
nationality we can conclude nothing from his Semitic name, as that 
might be only a translation of his original appellation. He is dwell- 
ing among Hamites, recognised apparently as the chief of a settled 
Canaanitish tribe. If he had been of Semitic descent, he could 
scarcely have been considered so entirely disconnected with Levi 
and the Jewish priesthood ; his sacerdotal office would not have had 
the isolated character which is attributed to it. Monotheists were 
to be found among alien people, such as Job in the land of Uz, and 
Balaam in Pethor. It is reasonable to conclude that he was of the 
same blood as those among whom he dwelt, preserving in himself 
that revelation of the true God which was maintained by Noah and 
his immediate descendants.' 

Taking a strictly historical view of Melchizedek, very striking and 
very hopeful suggestions are made by Miss Corbaux, in the ' Journal 
of Sacred Literature.' ' It may be safely concluded that, though 
reigning in Canaan, Melchizedek was not of one of the depraved and 
idolatrous Canaanitish tribes. Miss Corbaux, writing concerning the 



54 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

Rephaim, a distinct race, supposes that Salem was the central seat of 
their authority, and that the king who reigned there was the supreme 
head of their nation, to whom the different tribes were subordinate. 
If Melchizedek were a mere local chief, it is difficult to see why the 
King of Sodom, an Emim prince, and why Abraham, should pay him 
the deference they did.' ' But the moment the important fact comes 
in by way of explanation, supported by sufficient extrinsic evidence, 
that the King of Salem was the supreme chief of the entire nation, 
and the local chiefs of tribes were his subordinates, the whole 
transaction becomes perfectly intelligible, because we understand 
the mutual relation of all parties concerned in it. As feudal lord of 
the land, in which Abraham had settled, Abraham paid him this 
tribute. As head of the national body to which the Emim belonged, 
the chief of the Emim sanctioned it. As head of the state in 
religious as well as in temporal concerns, according to the primitive 
patriarchal order, Melchizedek received the tribute, both as a votive 
offering of gratitude from the givers for the rescue of the goods, and 
as an acknowledgment of his lordship over the goods rescued. 

On the question whether he was of Canaanite or Semitic race, the 
Speaker's Commentary says : ' The name and titles of Melchizedek 
are Semitic ; but this proves nothing. He dwelt among Canaanites ; 
but there had probably been Semitic inhabitants of the land before 
the emigration of the Canaanites ; and so Melchizedek, who was a 
worshipper of the true God, may have been one of the original 
Semitic stock. There were, however, worshippers of the true God, 
besides the Israelites, retaining patriarchal truth, as Job and Balaam, 
and so it is not certain that Melchizedek was a descendant of Shem.' 

Dr. C. Geikie brings out some points of interest in his note. 
' Melchizedek's pure and holy faith in the " Most High God," was 
doubtless a relic of the anciently universal recognition of the One 
Creator, and is one of the proofs incidentally afforded in such other 
cases as that of Abimelech, King of Gerar ; Jethro, the Midianite ; 
Balaam, from the mountains of Assyria, and Job the Arab, that God 
has at no time left Himself without a witness even in lands secluded 
from the direct privileges of His people. El Elion, the name given 
by Melchizedek to God, was not, indeed, new or unknown, for El, or 
II, " The Mighty One," was the ancient supreme god of the Semitic 
races of Babylonia, and was known in Palestine by the Phoenicians ; 
and even the great title, Elion, " The Highest," had been adopted by 
them, corrupt and idolatrous as they had become. With them, 
indeed, both names only marked one Divine Being among many, 
though perhaps the highest ; nor is it to be overlooked that while 



GO LI A TITS HEAD AND ARMOUR. 55 

Melchizedek uses the general expression "The Most High God," 
Abraham, in repeating it, prefixes the personal name " Jehovah," as if 
to claim for Him the exclusive right to supreme divinity. With this 
weighty addition, though not without it, he recognises the God of 
Melchizedek as Him whom he himself worshipped.' 

Dean Stanley's reference, though familiar, is too suggestive to be 
omitted. Melchizedek * appears for a moment, and then vanishes 
from our view altogether. It is this which wraps him round in 
that mysterious obscurity which has rendered his name the symbol of 
all such sudden, abrupt apparitions, the interruptions, the disloca- 
tions, if one may so say, of the ordinary, even succession of cause and 
effect and matter of fact in the various stages of the history of the 
Church (Heb. vii. 3). No wonder that, in Jewish times, he was 
regarded as some remnant of the earlier world Arphaxad or Shem. 
No wonder that when, in after times, there arose One whose appear- 
ance was beyond and above any ordinary influence of time, or place, 
or earthly descent, the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews could 
find no fitter expression for this aspect of His character than the 
mysterious likeness of Melchizedek.' 



What became of Goliath's Head and Armour? 

I SAMUEL xvii. 54 : ' And David took the head of the Philistine, and brought it 
to Jerusalem ; but he put his armour in his tent.' 

i SAMUEL xxi. 9 : ' And the priest said, The sword of Goliath the Philistine, 
whom thou slewest in the valley of Elah, behold, it is here wrapped in a cloth 
behind the ephod : if thou wilt take that, take it : for there is no other save that 
here. And David said, There is none like that ; give it me.' 

Difficulty. -Jerusalem at this time was in the hands of the 
Jebusites, and there was no possibility of David's taking the head to 
that city. And besides , David had no tent ; he was only a visitor at 
the camp, and the sword was found afterwards, not in David's tent, 
but in the sacred Tabernacle at Nob. 

Explanation. The two facts presented in this statement of diffi- 
culty should be at once and fully recognised and admitted. It is true 
that, in some sense, the Israelites dwelt in the city of Jerusalem, though 
the fortress of Jebus had not been taken (see Josh. xv. 63 ; Jud. 
i, 8). But it is also quite true that Jerusalem occupied, at the time, 
no such relation to Saul, or to David, or to the kingdom, as could 
have suggested it as a store-place to David. And there was no sense 
in which David could be said to have either a tent or a dwelling. 

We should naturally expect that David, having conquered in the 
strength of God, and as a testimony of the power they have who 



56 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

trust in God, would feel an impulse to dedicate the trophies of his 
victory to God. It would be a very unfitting close of the narrative 
if we had to understand that David made a public boast over his 
fallen enemy, and enriched himself with the spoils of battle. The 
' tent ' referred to must be the sacred tent, or tabernacle, of Jehovah, 
and there the sword was found, carefully wrapped up, only a little 
time later on (i Sam. xxi. 9). All difficulty would be removed if 
we might assume that the Tabernacle was at this time erected at Nob, 
which was near to, and overlooking, Jerusalem. What we understand 
David to have done was this : taken both the head and armour to 
the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, fixed up the head near the sacred 
tent, where it would speedily decay ; and left the armour in charge of 
the priests as historical treasures. We know positively that* the 
Tabernacle was at Nob, a little later in Saul's reign (i Sam. xxi. i), 
and it is reasonable to think it had been placed there before the 
conflict with Goliath. Nob, as one of the eminences near Jerusalem, 
may, in a general way, be spoken of as ' Jerusalem.' 

Imagination has filled in the Bible record very variously. Eder- 
sheim says : ' The head of the Philistine he nailed on the gates of 
Jerusalem, right over in sight of the fort which the heathen Jebusites 
still held in the heart of the land ; the armour he laid up in his home 
as his part of the spoil.' Wordsworth explains the ' tent ' as * David's 
abode in Bethlehem ;' but there is no hint given of his having any 
separate dwelling. Dr. Geikie is very inventive. ' From the battle- 
field David returned for a time to his father's house, apparently, 
however, after a visit to Jerusalem, which, though still held by 
Jebusites, was largely inhabited by Hebrews. In the care of some of 
his friends, among these, he left, for the present, the grisly memory of 
his victory the head of the fallen man.' But no hint is given of a 
reason why Jerusalem was chosen as the treasury. Geikie adds : 
* The huge armour he kept, meanwhile,' in his ' own 'tent ' in the 
hills, and the sword was laid up in his father's house till it could be 
transferred to the Tabernacle at Nob, as an offering of grateful thanks 
to Jehovah.' But reference to his ' father's house ' is not made in the 
narrative. 

The Speaker's Commentary recognises that there was no reason 
why Jerusalem should at this time be selected as the place to put the 
trophy of David's victory in ; and suggests that this was not actually 
done until David had made Jerusalem his capital, and the treasury of 
his trophies (2 Sam. v. 5 ; viii. 7), but it is mentioned, at this 
particular time, by anticipation, in the usual way of Hebrew narrative. 
1 It would be quite in accordance with David's piety that he should 



LEFT VNCIRCUMCISED. 57 

immediately dedicate to God the arms taken from the Philistine, in 
acknowledgment that the victory was not his own but the Lord's.' 

It is the Eastern custom to exhibit the heads of conquered kings or 
generals ; but we need not think of them as being kept a long time. 
They were placed on poles in some conspicuous position, and soon 
fell to pieces. 

As so often, Dean Stanley presents the solution which can hardly 
fail to be acceptable. ' Two trophies long remained of the battle 
the head and the sword of the Philistine. Both were ultimately 
deposited at Jerusalem but, meanwhile, were hung up behind the 
ephod in the Tabernacle at Nob. The mention of Jerusalem may 
be either an anticipation of the ultimate disposition of the relics in 
David's Sacred Tent there (2 Sam. vi. 17), or a description of the 
Tabernacle at Nob, dose to Jerusalem, where the sword is mentioned 
(i Sam. xxi. 9).' 

Left Uncircumcised. 

JOSHUA v. 5 : ' Now all the people that came out were circumcised : but all the 
people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of 
Egypt, them they had not circumcised.' 

Question. What was the reason for the neglect of the Divine 
requirement of circumcision during all the later years of the wilderness 
journey ? 

Answer. From the time that the judgment of Jehovah fell on 
the Israelites, on account of their rebellion, after receiving the report 
of the spies, they were regarded by Jehovah as being out of the 
covenant, or, at least, the covenant relations were regarded as 
suspended, and therefore the sign of the covenant could not be per- 
mitted to continue. The significance of this suspension of the 
covenant, and of its sign, can only be understood by considering the 
Divine use made of the rite of circumcision. 

It is now known that the rite was not invented afresh for the 
Abrahamic race. The Egyptians had practised it from immemorial 
antiquity, and traces of it are found in many unrelated tribes and 
nations. It was made a requirement by God of Abraham and his 
posterity. When God solemnly established and ratified His covenant 
with Abraham, as narrated in Gen. xvii., it is added, 'Everyman 
child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the 
flesh of your foreskin ; and it shall be a token of the covenant 
betwixt Me and you.' ' My covenant shall be in your flesh for an 
everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised man child, whose flesh 



58 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his 
people ; he hath broken My covenant.' The strict and continued 
observance of the rite was to be a continuous acknowledging of the 
covenant relations and claims. 

If, then, God was pleased, in judgment and in discipline, to sus- 
pend for a time the covenant-relations, nothing could be a more 
efficient reminder of the fact, that the people were under discipline, 
than the suspension of this familiar rite. They were not allowed to 
bind themselves to the covenant by the act of circumcising their 
children, because the covenant-relations were held in abeyance. But 
this explanation depends on our taking a correct view of the thirty- 
eight years of wandering. 

It is worthy of notice that, even in the historical record, the events 
of this period are unnoticed, as if they did not belong to the history 
of the covenant ; and verse 6 of Joshua v. seems distinctly to connect 
the non-observance of the rite with the judgment resting on the 
people. It reads thus : ' For (as if presenting the reason) the children 
of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people that 
were men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because 
they obeyed not the voice of the Lord : unto whom the Lord sware 
that he would not show them the land, which the Lord sware unto their 
fathers that He would give us, a land that floweth with milk and honey.' 

One writer suggests that possibly their nomad life, perpetually 
moving, may sufficiently account for their not circumcising during 
the wilderness-period ; but this writer adds : ' Some have supposed 
them, as it were, in a state of rejection until the disobedient genera- 
tion had died out." The crossing of Jordan was a sign of the 
covenant being re-established, and therefore at that time the rite 
could be fittingly resumed. 

Waller says : ' As the narrative stands, it is not quite obvious why 
uncircumcision is called " the reproach of Egypt," verse 9, whereas 
all the people bom in Egypt were circumcised. The uncircum- 
cision attached to those who were born in the wilderness, during the 
years of wandering. But the period of wandering, between the de- 
parture from Kadesh-barnea and the return to Kadesh (thirty-seven 
and a half years, Num. xv.-xix. inclusive), is a kind of blank in the 
story of the Exodus. The five chapters which belong to it in the 
Book of Numbers contain no note of progress as to time or place. 
The people had " turned back in their hearts to Egypt " (Acts vii. 
39 ; Num. xiv. 4), and were bearing the reproach of their apostasy all 
those years, "the reproach of Egypt." Suffering under the "breach 
of promise " of Jehovah (Num. xiv. 34), they appear to have omitted 



DA VID'S LION AND BEAR. 59 

the sign of the covenant, as though they were no longer the people 
of God. The passage of Jordan was the practical proof of Israel's 
restoration to Divine favour, and they were then brought into covenant 
with Him once more.' 

The Speaker's Commentary may be cited as a further authority for 
the explanation given above. ' It was not (as Rosenmiiller and 
Kurtz, after many older authorities) that during the wanderings they 
were constantly on the move, or at least uncertain of their stay in any 
given place ; for they remained at Sinai eleven months, and must 
have, on many other occasions, been stationary for weeks together 
The true reason is that suggested by Hengstenberg, after Calvin and 
others, viz., that the sentence of Num. xiv. 28, sqq., placed the whole 
nation for the time under a ban ; and that the discontinuance of 
circumcision, and the consequent omission of the Passover, was a 
consequence and a token of that ban. . . . For the time the cove- 
nant was abrogated, though God's purpose to restore it was from 
the first made known, and confirmed by the visible marks of His 
favour which he still vouchsafed to bestow during the wandering.' 

David's Lion and Bear. 

I SAMUEL xvii. 34-36 : ' And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his 
father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock : 
and I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth ; and 
when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew 
him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear.' 

Difficulty. There appear to be two distinct incidents referred to, 
but the details given are not suitable to both cases. 

Explanation. The 'Revised Version ' reads the first sentence, 
' when there came a lion, or a bear ;' but this does not get over the 
difficulty, because, in the following verses, two cases are referred to 
as having actually occurred. 

We have, in these verses, an instance of the hurried speech of a 
man in a time of excitement. The natural hurry and almost 
incoherency are precisely caught. David mixes things up, for it is 
not possible, at such a moment, to be logically precise. His point comes 
out clearly enough. He does but summarize the instances in which 
his promptitude and courage, with the help of God, had overcome 
serious perils. Whether there had been one case, or two, or fen, in 
which his shepherd's prowess and his faith in God had been tried, 
was quite a secondary consideration. He had trusted in God, and 
done exploits ; and trusting in God, he would do exploits again. 

The Speaker's Commentary makes an unnecessary effort to account 
for the apparent confusion of thought and speech. ' The narrative 



60 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

does not make it certain whether the lion and the bear came on one 
and the same, or on two different occasions. If it was one occasion, 
the probability would be that, the bear having seized a lamb, and 
carrying it off, a lion appeared to dispute the prize with the bear, or 
with David after he had taken it from the bear, and that David slew 
first one, and then the other. If on different occasions, David's 
description applies to each.' But it may fairly be urged that the 
habits of lions and bears are so different, that they are not likely to 
have hunted in any sense together ; and the expression, * caught him 
by the beard ' is only suitable to the lion. It is surely simpler to 
say, that David hurriedly recalled two cases, and gave the details of 
one only. 

Dean Stanley treats the passage as describing a single incident. 
' In those early days, when the forests of Southern Palestine had not 
been cleared, it was the habit of the wild animals which usually 
frequented the heights of Lebanon, or the thickets of the Jordan, to 
make incursions into the pastures of Judaea. From the Lebanon at 
times descended the bears. From the Jordan ascended the lion, at 
that time infesting the whole of Western Asia. These creatures, 
though formidable to the flocks, could always be kept at bay by the 
determination of the shepherds. Sometimes pits were dug to catch 
them. Sometimes the shepherds of the whole neighbourhood formed 
a line on the hills, and joined in loud shouts to keep them off. 
Occasionally a single shepherd would pursue the marauder, and tear 
away from the jaws of the lion morsels of the lost treasure two legs, 
or a piece of an ear. Such feats as these were performed by the 
youthful David. It was his pride to pursue these savage beasts, and 
on one occasion he had a desperate encounter at once with a lion 
and a she bear. The lion had carried off a lamb ; he pursued the 
invader, struck him with the boldness of an Arab shepherd, with his 
staff or switch, and forced the lamb out of his jaws. The lion turned 
upon the boy, who struck him again, caught him by the mane, or the 
throat, or, according to another version, by the tail, and succeeded in 
destroying him.' 

The Origin of Moab and Ammon. 

GENESIS xix. 37-38 : 'And the firstborn bare a son, and called his name Moab : 
the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day. And the younger, she also 
bare a son, and called his name Ben-ammi : the same is the father of the children 
of Ammon unto this day.' 

Question. What value may be reasonably attached to the tradi- 
tion explanatory of the origin of these nations? 

Answer. De Wette, Tuch, Knobel, etc., regard this narrative 



THE ORIGIN OF MOAB AND AMMON. 61 

concerning Lot as an invention of a later age, and due to the national 
hatred of the Israelites against the Moabites and Ammonites. We 
confess to some sympathy with this view. It is a curious character- 
istic of Eastern people, that they vent their anger against a man by 
saying shameful things of his mother. It would be in harmony with 
this peculiarity if annoyance at a nation found expression in the in- 
vention of some shameful origin for it. The origins of all nations, 
being pre-historic, are always uncertain and cloudy. Some poet- 
soul arises, who recognises the genius of the nation, and then invents 
for it some symbolic beginning, which after ages treat as if it were 
history. In this way the story of Romulus and Remus being suckled 
by a wolf was no doubt created, to account for the characteristic 
strength of the Romans as a people. It may be fairly urged that the 
origin of Moab and Ammon is such an imaginative picture, coloured 
by the enmity felt towards them by the Israelites. It has been 
argued that we do not come into the region of what can be called 
history until the Israelites are brought into relations with civilized 
Egypt. The records of Abraham are reasonably assumed to blend 
the legendary with the historical. 

The Speakers Commentary, referring to De Wette's idea, that this 
narrative had its origin in the national hatred of the Israelites to the 
Moabites and Ammonites, replies, that the Pentateuch by no means 
shows such national hatred (see Deut. ii. 9, 10) : and the Book of 
Ruth gives the history of a Moabitess who was ancestress of David 
himself. It was not until the Moabites had seduced the Israelites 
to idolatry and impurity (Num. xxv. i), and had acted in an un- 
friendly manner towards them, hiring Balaam to curse them, that 
they were excluded from the congregation of the Lord for ever 
(Deut. xxiii. 3, 4). 

It is pointed out that the name Moab (Me-ab) means, ' Son of my 
father ;' and Ammon ' Son of my people,' i.e. one born of intercourse 
with her own kin and family. So the very names indicate the 
incestuous origin of the tribes. 

Lange says : 'When later debauchery (Num. ii. 25) and irnpiety 
(e.g. 2 Kings iii. 26) appear as fundamental traits in the character 
and cultus of both peoples, we can at least hold with equal justice 
that these inherited sins came with them from their origin, as that the 
tradition of their origin has moulded their character.' 

It must, however, be admitted that a narrative which assumes Lot's 
absolute ignorance is, on the face of it, somewhat unreasonable, and 
belongs to the region of imagination rather than of historical fact. 



62 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 



Two Accounts of David's Magnanimity. 

i SAMUEL xxiv. 7 : 'So David stayed his servants with these words, and suf- 
fered them not to rise against Saul.' 

I SAMUEL xxvi. 9 : ' And David said to Abishai, Destroy him not : for who can 
stretch forth his hand against the Lord's anointed, and be guiltless?' 

Question. Is there reasonable ground for the suggestion that these 
two chapters contain differing traditions of one incident? 

Answer. The suggestion is made on such authority, and sup- 
ported by so good arguments, that it certainly calls for a patient and 
careful consideration. Ewald regards the earlier narrator's fragments 
as defective here, but says there must have been some original 
narrative, or the representations that we have would be inexplicable. 
He points out that, in the popular traditions, the story of David's 
generosity, in sparing Saul's life, was almost as great a favourite as 
the tale of his combat with Goliath, and accordingly was told as often, 
and finally assumed as many different forms. ' Two narratives of 
this description are contained in the Book of Samuel, both alike 
flowing into that style of representation in which the simple act sinks 
into insignificance before the grandeur of the sentiments which it 
illustrated, yet each bearing in its style of composition traces of a 
special narrator.' 

Lord Arthur Hervey, Z>.D., Bishop of Bath and Wells, has given 
this question most careful attention, and lays out in order the 
materials for forming a judgment, though with an evident bias towards 
the view that we have two traditions of one event. His entire note 
may be given. ' The verse, ch. xxvi. i, is all but identical with 
ch. xxiii. 19, only a little abbreviated; and as there is no intimation 
in it that the Ziphites came to Saul again^ or, a second time, and as 
the incident related in this chapter of the meeting between Saul and 
David bears a strong resemblance to that recorded in ch. xxiv., and 
is of a nature unlikely to have occurred more than once, the inquiry 
naturally arises whether the event here narrated is really different 
fromthat in ch. xxiv., or whether it is the same event somewhat 
differently told. The points of resemblance are: (i) The identity 
above named of ch. xxvi. i with ch. xxiii. 19. (2) The identity of 
position occupied by David, ch. xxiii. 19, 24, and ch. xxvi. i, 3. (3) 
The fact of Saul and David being on the same hill at the same time, 
ch. xxvi. 3, compared with ch. xxiii. 26. (4) The special note of 
Saul's locality " by the way," ch. xxvi. 3, and xxiv. 3. (5) The 
number of Saul's army on both occasions, 3,000, ch. xxvi. 2 ; xxiv. 2. 
(6) The speech of David's men, ch. xxvi. 8, and xxiv. 4. (7) David's 



TWO ACCOUNTS OF DAVID'S MAGNANIMITY. 63 

refusal to set forth his hand against the Lord's anointed, ch. xxvi. 
9, ii, and xxiv. 6. (8) The incident of David's taking Saul's spear 
from his bedside, ch. xxvi. 12, compared with his cutting off the skirt 
of his garment (ch. xxiv. 4), incidents which might possibly be identi- 
fied if the skirt of the meil, or garment, were hanging upon the 
spear. (9) Saul's sound sleep, ch. xxiv. 3, and xxvi. 7. (10) David's 
expostulation and defence of himself, ch. xxvi. 19, compared with 
xxiv. 9; xxvi. 20, compared with xxiv. 14; xxvi. 22-24, compared 
with xxiv. 10, ii ; xxvi. 23, 24, compared with xxiv. 15. (n) Saul's 
words, xxvi. 17, compared with xxiv. 16. (12) Saul's avowal of his 
conviction of David's future greatness, xxvi. 25, compared with xxiv. 
20, and confession of his own misconduct, xxvi. 21, compared with 
xxiv. 17, 1 8. (13) The termination of the interview as described 
xxvi. 25, compared with xxiv. 22. It may also be remarked that the 
two narratives may be brought into very near agreement if we suppose 
David's men, in xxiv. 3, to mean not the whole gang, but his two 
companions, Ahimelech and Abishai ; if we suppose David's coming 
into the cave to be not accidental, but the result of the reconnaissance 
mentioned in xxvi. 5, and give to the word Q^^*, in ch. xxiv. 3, its 
proper sense of " lying in ambush," waiting till all was quite still in 
the camp ; and if we suppose that Abner and the people were en- 
camped just outside the cave within which Saul lay, as it is natural 
to suppose they were. If we further suppose that one narrative 
relates fully some incidents on which the other is silent, there will 
remain no discrepancy of any importance. So that on the whole the 
nost probable conclusion is that the two narratives relate to one and 
;he same event. Compare the two narratives of the Creation, Gen. i. 
md Gen. ii. 4, sqq. ; the two narratives of David's war against the 
Syrians under Hadarezer, 2 Sam. viii., and x. ; those of the death 
)f Ahaziah, 2 Kings viii. 27, sqq., and 2 Chron. xxii. 9; and many 
nstances in the Gospels as compared one with another.' 

We may present, as fairly and fully, what can be urged in favour 
>f the view that two wholly distinct incidents are narrated. For this 
ve take the guidance of Canon Spence. ' The circumstances of the 
light raid by David and his companions into the camp of the sleep- 
ng Saul are, when examined closely, so entirely different from the 
ircumstances of the mid-day siesta of Saul in the Engedi cavern, 
/here David and his band were dwelling, that it is really impossible 
3 assume that they are versions of one and the same incident. We 
onclude, therefore, with some certainty, that the accounts contained 
i ch. xxiii., xxiv., xxvi., refer to two distinct and separate events ; 
nd so Keil, Erdmann, Lange, and Dean Payne Smith. There re- 



64 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

mains, however, a still graver question to be considered, the gravity 
and difficulty of which remains the same, whether we assume, as 
we propose to do, that twice in the course of the outlaw life of David 
the king's life was in his power, or that only once David stood over 
the sleeping king, sword in hand, and that the two accounts refer 
to one and the same event. For what purpose did the compiler of 
the First Book of Samuel insert in his narrative this twenty-sixth 
chapter where either the old story of ch. xxiii. and xxiv. is repeated 
with certain variations, or else an incident of a similar nature to one 
which has been told before in careful detail is repeated at great 
length ? To this important question no perfectly satisfactory reply 
can be given. The object of one such recital in an account of the 
early life of the great founder of Israelitic greatness is clear, but we 
may well ask why was a second narrative of an incident of like nature 
inserted in a book where conciseness is ever so carefully studied ? 
All we can suggest is, that everything which conduced to the glory of 
the favourite hero of Israel was of the deepest interest to the people, 
and the surpassing nobility and generosity of the magnanimity of 
David to his deadly foe was deemed worthy of these detailed ac- 
counts, even in the necessarily brief compilation of the inspired 
writer of the history of this time.' 

The question is a deeply interesting and important one, because it 
involves the further question, whether we may expect to find in the 
Scripture histories accounts of events that are not true to fact in 
every precise detail. May we think that the writer recorded faith- 
fully the narratives as he found them, or heard them, but the ac- 
counts were only in a general sense correct ? We may be helped by 
recalling to mind the general agreement, but diversity of details, in 
any reports sent to our newspapers of events that happen. We do 
not think of them as untruthful, though they do not exactly agree. 
A historian has to collate the different reports of a battle, all of which 
may be truthful. And when historical events or incidents in lives of 
great men were only remembered, and told from one to another, 
differences in detail were only too likely to spring up. In the case 
before us the probabilities seem quite in favour of a variation in the 
traditional records of one incident. 



THE FIRST ASSYRIAN INVASIONS. 65 



The First Assyrian Invasions. 

2 KINGS xv. 19 : ' And Pul the king of Assyria came against the land ; and 
Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver, that his hand might be with him 
to confirm the kingdom in his hand.' 

2 KINGS xv. 29 : 'In the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglath-pileser 
king of Assyria, and took Ijon, and Abel-beth-maachah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, 
and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and carried them 
captive to Assyria.' 

Question. Do the Assyrian records furnish any corroboration, 
and any further details, of these invasions ? 

Answer. It is necessary first to endeavour to trace clearly what 
is stated in Scripture. These texts record two distinct invasions, one 
occurring in the reign of Menahem, the other in that of Pekah. 
Some think the two invasions occurred during the reign of one 
Assyrian king, who is called in the one place Pul, in the other 
Tiglath-pileser ; but it is always safer to conclude that the compiler 
of Scripture history knew what he was writing about, and was not 
likely to give two names to the same man. 

Bible readers are often confused by the statements that connect 
Babylonia and Assyria with Israel. We know so little of the 
relations of those countries, and their national and political changes, 
that to most of us the one seems to embrace the other. Babylonia 
was the older nation, and lay southwards, around the river Tigris, 
and near the Persian Gulf. Assyria was the nation occupying the 
country north of Babylonia, and around the Euphrates. Both 
Babylonia and Assyria were aggressive nations, disposed to move 
westwards, and so they were rivals ; sometimes Babylonia was a 
dependent of Assyria, and sometimes Assyria of Babylonia. When 
Samaria was taken, and the kingdom of Israel destroyed, Assyria 
was the dominant power. When Jerusalem was taken, and the 
kingdom of Judah destroyed, Babylonia was the dominant power. 

It is with Assyrian history that we are just now concerned. It 
begins with the patesis or viceroys of the city of Assur, of whom we 
only know the names. In the seventeenth or sixteenth century 
before the Christian era, one Bel Kapkapi gave himself the title of 
king. For two or three centuries our chief information is founded 
on the relations between this monarchy and that of Babylonia, 
which were sometimes peaceable, and sometimes hostile. For six 
generations the descendants of Kapkapi followed one another on the 
throne ; and then came Tiglath-pileser L, who may be regarded as 
the founder of the first Assyrian Empire. He conquered Babylonia 
in B.C. 1130. The next important kings are Assurdan IL ; 

5 



66 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

Rimmon-nirari II. ; and Assur-natsir-pal (B.C. 911-858). Then came 
Shalmaneser II., who seems to have been the first to compel Israel 
(under Jehu) to pay tribute, B.C. 884. In B.C. 854 he attacked the 
kingdom of Hamath, and a confederacy was formed against him, 
which included Ahab of Israel. Shalmaneser also succeeded in 
reducing Babylonia to vassalage. 

' Rawlinson thinks that Judaea was regularly tributary to Assyria 
from the beginning of the reign of Amaziah, B.C. 838, and that it is 
most unlikely Samaria, which lay between Judaea and Assyria, could 
have maintained its independence. ' Under the Assyrian system, the 
monarchs of tributary kingdoms, on ascending the throne, applied 
for " confirmation in their kingdoms " to the Lord Paramount, and 
only became established on receiving it. We may gather from 
2 Kings xv. 19, 20 that Menahem neglected to make any such appli- 
cations to his liege lord, Pul a neglect which would have been 
regarded as a plain act of rebellion. Pul evidently looked on 
Menahem as a rebel. He consequently marched an army into 
Palestine for the purpose of punishing his revolt, when Menahem 
hastened to make his submission, and having collected, by means of 
a poll-tax, the large sum of a thousand talents of gold, he paid it over 
to the Assyrian monarch, who consented, thereupon, to " confirm " 
him as king.' 

The difficulty in identifying Pul lies in the fact that this name does 
not appear among the Assyrian monumental kings, and we have to 
find out the king who was reigning at the time of this particular ex- 
pedition. The name is even absent from the copies of the Assyrian 
Canon, which professes to give the entire list of monarchs from about 
B.C. 910 to B.C. 670. There seem to be three possible theories, (i) 
For a time a sort of second Assyrian monarchy was established, and 
Pul belonged to it. (2) Pul is but another name for Tiglath-pileser. 
(3) Pul is the predecessor of Tiglath-pileser, and appears on the 
monuments as Vul-lush. 

On theory i, Speaker's Commentary says : 'Assyria proper appears 
to have been in a state of depression for some forty years before 
the accession of Tiglath-pileser. And it is to be noted that Berosus, 
who mentioned Pul, called him a Chaldcean, and not an Assyrian 
king. These circumstances render it probable that, during the de- 
pression of the Ninevite line, a second monarchy was established 
upon the Euphrates, which claimed to be the true Assyria, and was 
recognised as such by the nations of Syria and Palestine ; and that 
Pul was one of its kings.' But this is too much like making history 
in order to remove a difficulty. 



THE FIRST ASSYRIAN INVASIONS. 67 

On theory 2, Sayce writes: 'After Rimmon-nirari III. (B.C. 810- 
781), who compelled Mariha, of Damascus, to pay him tribute, as 
well as the Phoenicians, Israelites, Edomites, and Philistines, the 
vigour of the dynasty began to fail. A few short reigns followed that of 
Rimmon-nirari, during which the first Assyrian empire melted away. 
A formidable power arose in Armenia, the Assyrian armies were 
driven to the frontiers of their own country, and disaffection began 
to prevail in Assyria itself. At length, .on June 15, B.C. 763, an 
eclipse of the sun took place, and the city of Assur rose in revolt. 
The revolt lasted three years, and before it could be crushed the out- 
lying provinces were lost. When Assur-nirari, the last of his line, 
ascended the throne, in B.C. 753, the empire was already gone, and 
the Assyrian cities themselves were surging with discontent. Ten 
years later the final blow was struck ; the army declared itself 
against the monarch, and he and his dynasty fell together. On the 
3<Dth of lyyar, of the year B.C. 745, a military adventurer, Pul, seized 
the vacant crown, and assumed the venerable name of Tiglath- 
pileser.' 

The Rev. J. C. Ball, M.A., in Ellicott's Commentary, strongly 
supports the identification of Pul with Tiglath. In a note on 
i Chron. v. 26, where the two names will be found closely associated, 
he says : ' Tiglath-pileser II. actually claims to have received tribute 
of Menahem (Menahimmu). Pul appears to have been the original 
name of Tiglath-pileser, which, upon his accession to the throne of 
Assyria (B.C. 745), he discarded for that of the great king who had 
ruled the country four centuries before his time. The name Pul 
(Pie-u-lu) has been identified by Dr. Schrader with the Porus of 
Ptolemy's Canon, Por being the Persian pronunciation of Pul. 
Perhaps, in i Chron. v. 26, the chronicler meant to indicate the 
identity of Pul and Tiglath : " The spirit of Pul and ( = that is) the 
spirit of Tiglath," and he carried them away.' 

Professor Schrader 's argument may be summarized. ' ( i ) Menahem, 
of Israel, and Azariah, of Judah, were contemporaries, according to 
the Bible as well as the Inscriptions. (2) According to the Bible, 
both these rulers were contemporary with an Assyrian king, Pul ; 
according to the Inscriptions, with Tiglath-pileser. (3) Berosus 
calls Pul a Chaldaean ; Tiglath-pileser calls himself King of Chaldaea. 
(4) Pul-Porus became, in B.C. 731, King of Babylon; Tiglath-pileser 
in B.C. 731 received the homage of the Babylonian king, Merodach- 
Baladan, as he also reduced other Babylonian princes in this year, 
amongst them Chinzeros, of Amukkan. (5) Porus appears in the 
Canon of Ptolemy as King of Babylon ; Tiglath-pileser names him- 

52 



68 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

self " King of Babylon." (6) Chinzeros became King of Babylon in 
B.C. 731 according to the Canon, and, in fact, along with, or under, a 
king of the name of Poros ; the hypothesis that the vanquished King 
of Amukkan of the same name was entrusted by Tiglath-pileser with 
the vassal kingship of Babylon is suggested at once by the coincidence 
of the chronological data. (7) In the year B.C. 727-726, a change of 
government took place in Assyria, in consequence of the death of 
Tiglath-pileser, and in Babylonia in consequence of the death of 
Porus. (8) No king appears in the Assyrian lists by a name like Pul, 
which is anomalous as a royal designation ; we can only identify Pul 
with some other name in the lists, and, on historical grounds, with 
Tiglath-pileser only. (9) Pul and Porus are forms of the same name. 
Compare Babiru for Babilu, in Persian inscriptions. (10) From all 
this, the conclusion is inevitable that Pul and Porus, Pul and Tiglath- 
Pileser, are one and the same person.' 

On theory 3, Rawlinson writes in Smith's ( Dictionary of the Bible,' 
but we have been unable to find any recent confirmations of it : ' The 
Assyrian monuments have a king, whose name is read, very doubt- 
fully, as Vul-lush or Iva-lush, at about the period when Pul must 
have reigned. This monarch is the grandson of Shalmaneser (the 
Black Obelisk king, who warred with Benhadad and Hazael, and 
took tribute from Jehu), while he is certainly anterior to the whole 
line of monarchs forming the lower dynasty Tiglath-pileser, Shal- 
maneser, Sargon, etc. His probable date, therefore, is B.C. 800-750, 
while Pul ruled over Assyria in B.C. 770. The Hebrew name Pul is 
undoubtedly curtailed; for no Assyrian name consists of a single 
element. If we take the " Phalos," or " Phaloch " of the Septuagint 
as probably nearer to the original type, we have a form not very 
different from Vul-lush or Iva-lush. If, on these grounds, the identi- 
fication of the Scriptural Pul with the monumental Vul-lush be 
regarded as established, we may give some further particulars of him 
which possess considerable interest. Vul-lush reigned at Calah 
(Nimrud) from about B.C. 800 to 750. He states that he made an 
expedition into Syria, wherein he took Damascus ; and that he 
received tribute from the Medes, Armenians, Phoenicians, Samaritans, 
Damascenes, Philistines, and Edomites. He also tells us that he 
invaded Babylonia and received the submission of the Chaldaeans. 
He was probably the last Assyrian monarch of his race. The list of 
Assyrian monumental kings, which is traceable without a break, and 
in a direct line to him from his seventh ancestor, here comes to a 
stand; no son of Vul-lush is found ; and Tiglath-pileser, who seems 
to have been Vul-lush 's successor, is evidently a usurper, since he 



JOSHUAS SUDDEN MARCH TO EBAL. 69 

makes no mention of his father or ancestors. The circumstances of 
Vul-lustts death, and of the revolution which established the lower 
Assyrian dynasty, are almost wholly unknown, no account of them 
having come down to us upon any good authority. Not much value 
can be attached to the statement in Agathias that the last king of the 
upper dynasty was succeeded by his own gardener.' 

Of these theories, the second appears to be best supported. 



Joshua's Sudden March to Ebal. 

JOSHUA viii. 35 : ' There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which 
Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the 
little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them.' 

Difficulty. This paragraph, verses 30-35, is inserted in the midst 
of the narrative of the conquest. Can it be in its proper place ? Can 
we think of the whole congregation temporarily removed from Gilgal, 
their camp, while the country was still at war ? 

Explanation. This difficulty has been met in several ways. 
Josephus places the transaction later on. The LXX. puts this para- 
graph after ch. ix. 2. Lange and Speakers Commentary think it should 
come in after ch. xi. Keil suggests that another Gilgal is referred to, 
not that by Jericho. There was a Gilgal near Gerizim, but no hint 
is given us of the removal of the camp to that spot. Other writers 
think the conquest of Ai secured the road to Shechem, and prefer 
to recognise an earnest effort made at this time to fulfil the require- 
ment of Moses. 

It must be admitted that, however strange it may seem to our 
notions, the removal of such a host in those days would not be re- 
markable. Great caravans break up camp and march long distances 
in the East, and the Israelites were still keeping their tent-life and 
habits. The chief difficulty in such a march would be the peril of 
attack from active foes. But the recent conquest of Ai would add to 
the terror of the nations round, and in acting with promptitude 
Joshua found safety. Shechem seems to have been chosen as the 
place of meeting, because it was the centre of the land ; and a solemn 
ceremony there was like taking possession of the whole land for 
Jehovah. ' Accordingly, all the nation, including the women and 
children, and even the multitude of other races which had come up 
with them from Egypt, were led on a stupendous grimage, from 
the banks of the Jordan at Gilgal, to the valley between Mounts 
Ebal and Gerizim, in the midland hills.' 

In a separate note, the Speaker's Commentary argues the point that 



70 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

the paragraph is out of its place. * It is difficult to escape the con- 
viction that these verses are here out of their proper and original 
place. The connection between viii. 29, and ix. i, is natural and 
obvious ; and in ix. 3, the fraud of the Gibeonites is represented as 
growing out of the alarm caused by the fall of Jericho and Ai. It 
is, too, on the face of it, extremely unlikely that a solemnity of this 
nature in the very centre of the country should be undertaken by 
Joshua whilst the whole surrounding district was in the hands of the 
enemy, or that, if undertaken, it would have been carried out un- 
molested. For it appears that (verse 35) "all the congregation of 
Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that 
were conversant among them," were present at it. The distance from 
Gilgal in the Jordan Valley to Mount Ebal is fully thirty miles ; and 
so vast a host, with its non-effective followers, could certainly not 
have accomplished a march like this through a difficult country and 
a hostile population in less than three days. Moreover, in ix. 6 ; 
x. 6, 15, 43, the Israelites are spoken of as still encamping at Gilgal. 
If, then, the solemnity described in these verses was really transacted 
immediately after the fall of Ai, the host, with its " women, little 
ones," etc., must have made the tedious and dangerous march to 
Shechem and back again, beside having to spend a day or two in the 
neighbourhood of the mountains for the preparation and performance 
of the solemnity. Nothing is said of special Divine interference ; 
and in the absence of miraculous help, Joshua could hardly have 
accomplished this undertaking at the time suggested by the present 
position of verses 30-35 in the narrative.' 

The Law of the Goel. 

NUMBERS xxxv. 12 : ' And they shall be unto you cities for refuge from the 
avenger ; that the manslayer die not, until he stand before the congregation in 
judgment.'' 

Question. Did Moses adopt an existing custom in regulating for 
escape from the family avenger ? If so, what modifications of the 
custom did he make ? 

Answer. Gesenius gives the derivation of the word 'Goer 
as from the verb Gauat, to redeem, or buy back. The participle 
* Goel ' means ' redeemer :' when added to the word daum (blood), the 
verb means * to avenge bloodshed, to require the penalty of blood- 
shed from anyone.' In the participle 'Goel Haddaum' it means 
' avenger of blood.' Since the right of redemption, and the office of 
avenging bloodshed, belonged to the nearest kinsman, ' Goel ' came to 
denote 'near of kin,' 'near relative.' 



THE LAW OF THE GO EL. 71 

All the evidence favours the idea, that Moses modified and adapted 
an existing sentiment and custom. Similar ideas and arrangements 
prevail in uncivilized nations still. Dr. Turner, the South Sea 
missionary, tells us that in Samoa, the manslayer, or the deliberate 
murderer, fearing the family avenger, flies to the house of the chief 
of the village, or to the house of the chief of another village to which 
he is related by the father's or the mother's side. In nine cases out 
of ten he is perfectly safe, if he only remains there. 

' In an unsettled state of society the execution of justice was 
necessarily left in private hands. The lowest stage of national de- 
velopment is where everyone assumes the right of avenging alleged 
misdeeds at his discretion ; and it was, therefore, already an upward 
step when prevailing custom restricted this right to certain persons, 
who, although wielding no public authority, were yet invested, ipso 
facto, for the time being, with a public character. It was in such a 
spirit that the unwritten code of the East conceded to the nearest 
kinsman of a murdered man the right of avenging the blood that 
had been shed. He was permitted to kill the murderer, without 
notice, openly or secretly, wheresoever he might find him. Such 
rude justice necessarily involved grave evils. It gave no opportunity 
to the person charged with crime of establishing his innocence ; it 
recognised no distinction between murder, manslaughter, and acci- 
dental homicide ; it perpetuated family blood-feuds, the avenger of 
blood being liable to be treated in his turn as a murderer by the 
kinsman of the man whom he had slain. These grievances could 
not be removed as long as there was no central government strong 
enough to vindicate the law ; but they might be mitigated ; and to 
do this was the object of Moses in the arrangement he made for 
" cities of refuge." Among the Arab tribes, who are under the con- 
trol of no central authority, the practice of blood-revenge subsists in 
full force to the present day. The law of the Koran limits the right 
of demanding satisfaction to cases in which a man has been un- 
justly smitten, and forbids the kinsman of the deceased to avenge 
his blood on any other than the actual murderer. But these restric- 
tions are generally disregarded in practice by the Arabs.' (Speaker's 
Commentary.} 

Dr. Thomson, in 'Land and Book,' tells us, concerning some 
tribes he visited, l as in the Jewish community in the time of Moses, 
so here, the custom of blood-revenge is too deeply rooted to be 
under the control of the feudal lords of the land ; indeed, they 
themselves and their families are bound by it in its sternest demands. 
It is plain that Moses, clothed with all the influence and power of an 



72 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

inspired law-giver, could not eradicate this dreadful custom, and was 
merely commissioned to mitigate its horrors by establishing cities of 
refuge under certain humane regulations. It is one of the cruel 
features of the lex talionis, that if the real murderer cannot be 
reached, the avengers of blood have a right to kill any other member 
of the family, then any relation, no matter how remote, and, finally, 
any member of the blood confederation.' 

C.J. Elliot says : * The avenger (Goel) was the near kinsman whose 
office it was to redeem the person or inheritance of his kinsman, if 
that kinsman was reduced by poverty to sell himself into slavery, or 
to sell his inheritance ; and also to avenge his blood in the event 
of his being slain. The Mosaic law of the goel served to keep in 
check the excited passions of the near relations of the man who had 
been slain, and to secure for him a fair and impartial trial.' 

Dr. Cox, in ' Biblical Antiquities,' gives a good account of early 
notions of justice. ' In the earliest times, it was left altogether to 
the nearest relation of the person that had been killed to execute 
punishment upon the murderer. (See the fear of Cain lest someone, 
finding him, should kill him.) In the common sentiment of society 
this was not only his right, but his duty also ; so that disgrace and 
reproach fell upon him if he failed to perform it. Hence it became, 
with such an one, a great point of honour not to leave the blood of 
his kinsman unavenged, and this, added to the keen feeling of anger 
which naturally raged in his bosom, urged him to make the greatest 
exertions to overtake and destroy the person by whose hand it had 
been shed. This plan of punishment was the most natural one in 
that simple state of society which was first common. Hence it pre- 
vailed among all people ; and because the manners of many nations 
in the East have been handed down with very little alteration from 
the most ancient days, it still prevails to a considerable extent in that 
part of the world. It is in use also among the American Indians, 
and in various countries of Africa. It is easy to see, however, that 
such a plan must be attended with most serious evil. It is adapted 
to cherish feelings of bitterness and revenge, and to make them 
seem honourable ; it is not likely to distinguish between wilful murder 
and such as happens without design ; and more than this, it tends to 
produce lasting feuds between families, one revenge still calling for 
another, and blood continually demanding new blood, so that in the 
end, instead of one life, many are cruelly destroyed, in consequence 
of a single murder. Thus it is, remarkably, among the Arabs ; 
families, and sometimes whole tribes, are set against each other in 
deadly hatred and war, by the retaliation which a crime of this sort 



THE LA W OF THE GOEL, 73 

produces ; and the enmity is handed down from fathers to sons as a 
sacred inheritance, until either one party is completely destroyed, or 
satisfaction made, such as the side to whom the injury was first done 
may agree to accept. The true interest of society, therefore, requires 
that a different plan of punishment should be secured ; that its execu- 
tion should be taken out of the hands of the nearest relation, and 
put into those of the civil magistrate.' 

Dr. Geikie says : ' Blood-revenge has been a passion among all 
Semitic people from the earliest ages. It may have arisen, in some 
degree, as lynch law has sprung up in the frontier States of America, 
from the imperfect development of society, and the fancied necessity 
of taking private means to secure justice ; but whatever its source, 
it was early recognised as not only a right but a duty. Among the 
Bedouins, it has, for ages, been made not only a personal matter, but 
the affair of the whole tribe of the murdered man, on each member 
of which lies the responsibility of obtaining vengeance. . . . The 
law was, indeed, written, " He that killeth any man shall surely be 
put to death ;" but the avenger of blood was left to be the executioner, 
due reprisals being regarded as so completely a fulfilment of the 
Divine will that God Himself is spoken of as the blood-avenger of 
His people. No money-payment could be taken for murder, or ever 
for homicide : to compound such a felony made the land unclean 
before God. Innocent blood, in the opinion of the Hebrews, as of 
the Arabs now, cries from the ground to God for revenge. Even the 
altar, inviolable for any other crime, could give the murderer no pro- 
tection. It was manifestly wrong, however, to put deliberate and 
accidental homicide on the same footing, and hence means of escape 
were provided for those guilty of only the unintentional offence.' 

Ewald, in his * Antiquities of Israel,' treats this ' law of the Goe'l ' 
very philosophically. His introductory paragraph may be given as 
dealing with that portion of the subject which is now under con- 
sideration. ' That the life, or, to express the idea in another more 
Hebrew word, the " soul " of a man, possesses of itself an inviolable 
sanctity, is one of the first principles which was firmly established 
among the nobler races from the very earliest times, and in which all 
those presentiments of something infinite being implanted in man 
sought to find the clearest expression possible. All more particular 
historical reminiscence begins with the fact of the sanctity of human 
life being already terribly violated in every variety of way ; and the 
sinful impulses had also become sufficiently pernicious and excitable 
in this direction before the human race set about repressing them 
energetically. Then, in order to uphold the true principle, there 



74 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES, 

arose among the nobler and more spirited races what is known as the 
vengeance of blood. This was already an established custom in the 
primitive days when the household was still everything, and when a 
kingdom embracing all individuals was either extremely weak, or 
altogether wanting, and at that time it alone furnished this most in- 
indispensable reciprocal protection for life. The avenger of blood is 
the redeemer ; he is the next heir ; he inherits not merely the goods, 
but the corresponding debts and duties of the dying man. If, then, 
it is one of the first duties of a living man not to endure any wrong 
that has been put upon him, and to avenge all insult, if, moreover, 
having been wrongfully murdered, he is himself unable to discharge 
this duty, then the nearest of kin, or his representative, inherits, along 
with his other new duties, the vengeance of blood as the most sacred 
of them all, and the full burden of infamy rests on him should he 
not discharge this most burning obligation. Accordingly, it was a 
further and natural consequence that the whole family of the murdered 
man took this duty upon themselves, and however long, or with what- 
ever craft, the murderer might seek to baffle the avenger, this only 
called for more craft and persistence on the part of the latter. The 
investigation, whether a murder were intentional or not, undoubtedly 
led very early to simple expiation for what was done without purpose ; 
but among many nations, even in the case of intentional murder, it 
became a custom to compound with blood-money for the life which 
was forfeited to this right of retaliation.' 



Dissatisfaction with the Theocracy. 

I SAMUEL viii. 7 : 'And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of 
the people in all that they say unto thee : for they have not rejected thee, but they 
have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.' 

Question. Is not God here represented as taking an altogether 
more serious view of the request of the people than they intended ? 

Answer. It is important to notice that, in using the expression, 
'They have rejected Me,' God is not sending a message to the people, 
but graciously relieving and comforting His servant, who felt that 
the demand for a king was a slight put upon himself an intimation 
that his judging or ruling of the people was not altogether satisfactory. 
The expression bears the intensity which is suitable to a kind and 
friendly expostulation. 

Canon Spence well expresses this point. 'The words spoken to 
Samuel, probably in a vision, by the Most High, are very touching 
and very sad very touching in their extreme tenderness to the noble 



DISSATISFACTION WITH THE THEOCRACY. 75 

)ld man. " Take courage," they seem to say, " My old true servant, 
md be not dismayed at this apparently bitter proof of the ingratitude 
>f the people you loved so well. This deliberate complaint on the 
)art of Israel is directed not against you, the judge, but against Me, 
he invisible King. They have ever been the same incapable of 
)ecoming My true subjects, and of winning on earth the lofty position 
[ would have given them ; you must give them now their heart's 
lesire. It has all been foreseen and provided for ; only make them 
inderstand what they are asking. Then give them their earthly 



The people certainly had not in their minds any idea of rejecting 
[ehovah as their God. But God knew that the actual issue of 
gaining their desire would be His rejection by the nation. With those 
)onds removed, which made Israel a separate and distinct people, it 
vas only too certain that they would first try to blend the worship of 
dol-gods with the worship of Jehovah, and then speedily come to 
Dut the worship of idol-gods in the place of Jehovah. The real 
lature of a seemingly simple and innocent request can often be seen 
hrough its remote consequences, and it is the skill of the historian 
o estimate the movements of an age in the light of its after-issues : 
)ut God alone can see beforehand, and estimate present conduct in 
he light of the results that flow from it. What God told Samuel 
vas a view of present conduct based upon Divine foreknowledge. 

Jehovah was pleased to unite in Himself two relationships, which, 
n common nations, were kept distinct. He was Israel's God, and 
-Ie was Israel's King. The union of these two relationships is 
:xpressed in the term 'Theocracy.' So far as the people understood 
heir own request, what they wanted was that Jehovah should continue 
o be their God, but that the actual government of the nation should 
>e put into the hands of some fellow-man, so that they might have 
vith them a chief magistrate, a centre of court-life, and a captain of 
heir armies. Israel had been called and separated, as a nation, in 
rder to preserve for the world the two primary truths of the unity 
nd spirituality of God. But these could only be preserved by faith 
faith of unseen things. As a constant educator of faith, God 
rranged to be their unseen, but ever-present, earthly King ; always 
ccessible, directly concerned in every national movement, making 
lis presence felt by national successes, but never seen ; His presence 
.pprehended only by faith. 

It was this call for faith in the unseen which proved too great a 
train upon the people. It was this strain they asked to have 
elieved. They did not see that they were losing their safeguard, 



76 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

and virtually refusing the mission for the world which had been 
entrusted to them. 

It must be admitted that, from the purely human point of view, 
the history of the period of Judges will account for ' dissatisfaction 
with the Theocracy.' It certainly had not worked well during those 
ages of struggle. But the question to solve is this : Was that failure 
due to the Theocratic system, or to the inability of the people to 
work the Theocratic system? These elders who came to Samuel 
should have been dissatisfied with themselves, and not with the 
Theocracy. The tribes had not kept together. The religious 
ceremonials had not been rightly observed. Jehovah's actual 
guidance of national affairs had not been sought. Those Israelites 
were like bad workmen, who complained of their tools > when they 
should complain of themselves. 

Kitto suggests, as one reason for the people desiring an earthly 
king, that their having no king was made a subject of reproach by 
their heathen neighbours. * The Eastern mind is so essentially and 
pervadingly regal, that to be without a sovereign is scarcely an 
intelligible state of things to an Oriental; and they must have had 
occasion to feel that the absence of a king gave them an appearance 
of inferiority in the eyes of their neighbours, incapable of under- 
standing or appreciating the special and glorious privileges of their 
position. The want of a royal head must often have been cast in 
their teeth by their neighbours as a kind of stigma ; and they would 
in course of time come to regard it as such themselves, and long to 
be in this point on a level with other nations. Even good men, able 
to appreciate the advantages of existing institutions, would eventually 
become weary of a peculiarity which the nations would obtusely 
persist in regarding as discreditable. 

Ewald says : ' To the Theocracy was now added the Monarchy, 
not to subvert or gradually supersede it, but to fulfil the wants of the 
age by its side. Hence, as the Monarchy was not intended to call 
in question the foundation of the Theocracy, but rather to stand and 
work on the same basis with it, it was bound to leave untouched the 
necessary living instruments through which the Theocracy then acted, 
especially the Prophets. There was consequently formed what we 
may call a mixed constitution and sovereignty; and the pure 
Theocracy became a Basileo-Theocracy.' ' In so far as the previous 
Theocracy excluded temporal royalty, an all but indispensable 
element, it inevitably acquired in course of time a certain stiffness 
and one-sidedness, and became less competent to fulfil its own 
mission ; as the preceding history has shown. Thus the entrance of 



THE SCRIPTURE FIGURE OF NIMROD. 77 

monarchy soon surprises us by the great increase of variety, move- 
ment, and vigour which it produces ; and while the two strongest 
powers of the state, by their combination, alternately hostile and 
friendly, kindle a new life in the higher departments, such a fresh 
energy soon so far penetrates the lower also, that Israel in a short 
time makes up for the delays of centuries.' ' But now in this com- 
munity, face to face with the human king stands the Theocracy ; a 
something still higher, and inviolable; with all its long-standing 
sacred laws and arrangements, and still continuously revealing itself 
through prophets and their words, valid as a Divine command.' If 
the man appointed 'desired to be really king, it could only be 
through his entering more fully than anyone else into the mind and 
spirit of Jahveh (Jehovah), and becoming through Him the proper 
human ruler in the midst of the Theocracy.' 

It is evidently necessary to state with precision and care the sense 
in which the request for an earthly king expressed dissatisfaction with 
the Theocracy. The dissatisfaction only concerned its practical 
working in times of grave difficulty. 

The Scripture Figure of Nimrod. 

GENESIS x. 8-10 : ' And Gush begat Nimrod ; he began to be a mighty one in 
:he earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord ; wherefore it is said, Even 
is Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord. And the beginning of his kingdom 
was Babel, and Ereeh, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.' 

Difficulty. // does not seem worth while to keep the record of a 
'na??s being a ''great hunter? Can this be a figure for the man who 
^irst showed the ambition to become a great world-conqueror ? 

Explanation. The name Nimrod is said to mean *a rebel.' 
\mong the Assyrian monuments a figure has been discovered which 
s said to represent Nimrod ; he is grasping a lion in his left hand, 
.vhile his right holds probably a missile weapon. We may take this 
is symbolical. Allowing for the uncertainty that attaches to all 
egendary accounts of the beginnings of nations and races, we may 
;till regard Nimrod as an historical figure. He was the first great hero 
)n earth, as the world understands the term 'hero.' He was success- 
ul in war, and distinguished in the chase, so that his skill and 
ntrepidity as a huntsman passed into a proverb. But what we are 
eft to assume from the record is, that Nimrod was the leader of 
iggressive movements of nations against nations ; the first great 
nvader who had the hunger for territory, and universal rule, which 
las made desolating world-conquerors in almost every age of human 
listory. He moved northward into the fertile land of Shinar, and 



78 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

to the town of Babylon, making that a centre from which he ruled 
other cities around. He also went into the country called Asshur, 
and founded Nineveh (verse u). 

The date of Nimrod can only be conjectured. Kalisch places him 
2450 B.C. He is called by the LXX., 'a hunting giant;' by the 
Arabic Version, ' a terrible tyrant ;' and by the Syriac Version, ' a 
warlike giant.' The Scripture notice does not imply any violence or 
lawlessness in Nimrod's career, more than would be associated with 
any world-conqueror or founder of kingdoms. Dean Payne Smith 
takes a kindly view of his life-work. ' Cush was probably not im- 
mediate father, but ancestor of Nimrod. In his days population had 
become numerous, and whereas each tribe and family had hitherto 
lived in independence, subject only to the authority of the natural 
head, he was able, by his personal vigour, to reduce several tribes to 
obedience, to prevail upon them to build and inhabit cities, and to 
consolidate them into one body politic.' 

Bochart says that, by being a famous hunter, he gathered to himself 
all the enterprising young men of his generation, attached them to 
his person, and so became a kind of king among them, training his 
followers first in the chase, and then leading them to war. 

Kitto remarks that ' we really know nothing more of Nimrod than 
that he was a strong, forceful, and unscrupulous character, a leader 
of men in his generation, and the first founder of the Assyrio-Baby- 
lonian Empire, which, however small in its beginning, was destined, 
ages after, to overshadow the nations.' The only actual facts that 
are at our command concerning Nimrod are (i) that he was a 
Cushite ; (2) that he established an empire in Shinar (the classical 
Babylonia), the chief towns being Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh ; 
(3) that he extended this kingdom northwards along the course of 
the Tigris over Assyria, where he founded a second group of capitals 
Nineveh, Rehoboth, Calah, and Resen. 

Smith's Dictionary gives a good summary of what may reasonably 
be thought about Nimrod. ' Our present information does not 
permit us to identify Nimrod with any personage known to us either 
from inscriptions or from classical writers. Ninus and Belus are 
representative titles rather than personal names, and are but equivalent 
terms for ' the lord,' who was regarded as the founder of the empires 
of Babylon and Nineveh. We have no reason on this account to 
doubt the personal existence of Nimrod, for the events with which 
he is connected fall within the shadows of a remote antiquity. But 
we may, nevertheless, consistently with this belief, assume that a large 
portion of the interest with which he was invested was the mere 



THE SCRIPTURE FIGURE OF NIMROD. 79 

reflection of the sentiments with which the nations of Western Asia 
looked back on the overshadowing greatness of the ancient Baby- 
lonian Empire, the very monuments of which seemed to tell of days 
when "there were giants in the earth." The feeling which suggested 
the colouring of Nimrod as a representative hero still finds place in 
the land of his achievements, and to him the modern Arabs ascribe 
all the great works of ancient times, such as the Birs Nimriid, near 
Babylon, Tell Nimrud, near Baghdad, the dam of Suhr el Nimrud 
across the Tigris below Mosul, and the well-known mound of Nimrud 
in the same neighbourhood.' 

Prof. George Smith has an interesting note : ' One of the earliest 
and chief gods of Babylon was Nipru, whom Rawlinson identifies 
with Nimrod. Among recent discoveries in Nineveh and Babylon 
are many scenes of the chase. Izdubar (Nimrod) legends, from 
inscriptions in Nineveh, appear to have been composed 2000 B.C. 
He is represented as a great hunter or giant, who obtained the 
dominion of the district round Babylon, and drove out a tyrant from 
Erech, adding this region to his kingdom.' 

The legends that have gathered round Nimrod are of no value, 
save as they indicate the kind of impression concerning him, his 
character, and career, left on the Eastern mind by the traditions that 
had come from early times. We give, as a specimen, one that was 
told to Mr. Layard, by Awad, a sheikh of the Jehesh tribe of Arabs. 
' The palace was built by Athur, the Kiayah, or lieutenant, of Nimrod. 
Here the holy Abraham (peace be with him !) cast down and brake 
in pieces the idols which were worshipped by the unbelievers. The 
impious Nimrod, enraged at the destruction of his gods, sought to 
slay Abraham, and waged war against him. But the prophet prayed 
to God, and said, " Deliver me, O God, from this man, who worships 
stones, and boasts himself to be the lord of all beings." And God 
said to him, " How shall I punish him ?" And the prophet answered, 
"To Thee armies are as nothing, and the strength and power of men 
likewise. Before the smallest of Thy creatures they will perish." 
And God was pleased at the faith of the prophet, and He sent a 
gnat, which vexed Nimrod night and day, so that he built himself a 
roof of glass in yonder palace, that he might dwell therein, and shut 
out the insect. But the gnat entered also, and passed by his ear into 
his brain, upon which it fed, and increased in size day by day, so 
that the servants of Nimrod beat his head with a hammer continually, 
that he might have some ease from his pain ; but he died, after 
suffering these torments for four hundred years.' 

Prof. Sayce gives the latest word : ' The name of Nimrod has not 



8o HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

yet been discovered in the cuneiform records. Some Assyrian scholars 
have wished to identify him with Gisdhubar, the hero of the great 
Chaldsean epic, which contains the account of the Deluge ; but 
Gisdhubar was a solar hero who had originally been the Accadian 
god of fire. It is true Gisdhubar was the special deity of the town 
of Marad, and that Na-Marad would signify in the Accadian language, 
" the prince of Marad " such a title, however, has not been found 
in the inscriptions.' 

Raman's Plot. 

ESTHER iii. 6: 'Wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were 
throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai.' 

Question. Did Himan propose to himself merely to revenge him- 
self on Mordecai by this massacre of the Jews ; or to secure the death 
of his rival by this scheme ? 

Answer. Such general race, or class, massacres are very strange 
and dreadful to the Western mind, but they are sadly familiar to Easterns. 

The Speaker's Commentary says ' the Magophonia, or the great 
massacre of the Magi at the accession of Darius Hystaspis, was an 
event not fifty years old in the twelfth year of Xerxes, and was com- 
memorated annually. A massacre of the Scythians had occurred 
about a century previously.' Jamieson expresses the feeling which we 
all have on reading the dreadful story. ' To us it appears unaccount- 
able how any sane monarch could have given his consent to the 
extirpation of a numerous class of his subjects. But such acts of 
frenzied barbarity have, alas, not rarely been authorized by careless 
and voluptuous despots, who have allowed their ears to be engrossed 
and their policy directed by haughty and selfish minions, who had 
their own passions to gratify, their own ends to serve.' Explaining 
the conduct of Mordecai and Haman, Jamieson adds : ' Large man- 
sions in the East are entered by the spacious vestibule, or gateways, 
along the sides of which visitors sit, and are received by the master 
of the house ; for none except the nearest relatives, or special friends, 
are admitted further. There the officers of the ancient King of 
Persia waited till they were called, and did obeisance to the all- 
powerful minister of the day. The obsequious homage of prostra- 
tion, not entirely foreign to the manners of the East, had not been 
claimed by former viziers ; but Haman required that all subordinate 
officers of the court should bow before him with their faces to the 
earth. But to Mordecai it seemed that such an attitude of profound 
reverence was due only to God. Haman being an Amalekite, one 



HAMAN'S PLOT. 81 

of a doomed and accursed race, was doubtless another element in the 
refusal ; and on learning that the recusant was a Jew, whose noncon- 
formity was grounded on religious scruples, the magnitude of the 
affront appeared so much the greater, as the example of Mordecai 
would be imitated by all his compatriots. Had the homage been 
a simple token of civil respect, Mordecai would not have refused it ; 
but the Persian kings demanded a sort of adoration, which, it is well 
known, even the Greeks reckoned it degradation to express, and as 
Xerxes, in the height of his favouritism, had commanded the same 
honours to be given to the minister as to himself, this was the ground 
of Mordecai's refusal. ... In resorting to the method of Pur, 
or Lot, for ascertaining the most auspicious day for putting his 
atrocious scheme into execution, Haman acted as the kings and 
nobles of Persia have always done, never engaging in any enterprise 
without consulting the astrologers, and being satisfied as to the lucky 
hour. Vowing revenge, but scorning to lay hands on a single victim, 
he meditated the extirpation of the whole Jewish race, who, he knew, 
were sworn enemies of his countrymen, and, by artfully representing 
them as a people who were aliens in manners and habits, and enemies 
to the rest of his subjects, procured the king's sanction of his intended 
massacre. One motive which he used in urging his point, was ad- 
dressed to the king's cupidity. Fearing lest his master might object that 
the extermination of a numerous body of his subjects would seriously 
depress the public revenue, Haman promised to make up the loss. ' 

Canon Rawlinson says : ' To a European of the nineteenth century, 
a massacre on an appointed day, by permission from the government, 
of thousands of unoffending persons, seems one of the most monstrous 
things that can be conceived. We have, indeed, one instance of 
such a fact in the history with which we are familiar ; but the massacre 
of St. Bartholomew stands by itself in our minds, as though it were 
a solitary case, wholly without a parallel. Acquaintance with Oriental 
history would make us aware that in the East such terrible doings are 
not infrequent ; that there they excite little horror, and do not appear 
strange or startling. The destruction of the Mamelukes at Cairo ; 
that of the Janissaries at Constantinople ; and the attempted de- 
struction of the Syrian Christians in 1850, are recent examples ; the 
massacre of the Scythians by the Medes ; of the Magi by Darius 
Hystaspis ; and of all the Romans in Asia by Mithridates, are earlier 
instances. To sweep a tribe or petty nation out of his path, was 
thus no wild or extravagant idea, when entertained by an Oriental 
statesman, who knew that he had great influence with his sovereign, 
and could induce him to sign almost any decree that he chose.' 

6 



82 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

Another, and much later, instance of an attempted general 
massacre may be given. During a war between the Russians and 
Turks in 1770, some of the Greeks, whose nation had long been 
under the Turkish yoke, sided with the Russians. This so enraged 
the Sultan that he conceived the horrible design of exterminating the 
whole nation ; and no doubt the deed, so far as practicable, would 
have been perpetrated but for the timely advice of Hassan Pasha, 
who succeeded in gaining a general amnesty for the Greeks. 

Dr. C. Geikie briefly sums up the plot. ' At one sweep Haman 
would avenge his own personal grudge, and quench the hereditary 
feud of his race in the blood of the whole brood of the hated race of 
Jews. Insinuating to Xerxes that they were dangerous, as a people 
who, unlike the other subject races of the empire, insisted on observ- 
ing their own laws rather than those of the king, and thus formed a 
ready centre for revolt, he obtained leave to arrange for their massacre 
everywhere throughout the empire, recommending his proposal by 
promising a vast sum to the treasury from their wealth.' 

Geikie adds an interesting note on the absolute despotism of 
Persian kings. These are familiar Persian expressions. * The will 
of the ruler is the will of the godhead.' 'Well spoken! The true 
Persian rejoices to be allowed to kiss the hand of his ruler, even if it 
be stained with his child's blood.' ' Cambyses has put my brother 
to death, but I murmur at him for it no more than I did at the god- 
head, who took my parents from me.' ALschylus calls the great 
king 'Persius Susa-born God.' 

The Influence of the Mixt Multitude. 

NUMBERS xi. 4 : ' And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting : 
and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to 
eat?' 

Question. Who are we to understand by this ' mixt multitude '; 
and, if not genuine Israelites, in what sense did they come under 
covenant obligations ? 

Answer. This question involves our estimate of the character 
and conduct of the children of Israel throughout their wilderness 
experience. It is usual for Bible readers to think of the Israelites, 
under Moses, as being strictly and exclusively the body-descendants 
of Jacob. It alters our estimate of their conduct, and makes us deal 
more considerately with them, when we realize that the Israelites 
proper were in close association with large numbers of persons who 
were not Israelites, and were not under the covenant obligations save 
by their associations. 



THE INFLUENCE OF THE MIXT MULTITUDE. 83 

We may wisely remind ourselves that, as tribes, they were not all 
Israelites. The servants, herdmen, etc., in a sense belonged to the 
tribe, and came under the obligations that rested on the tribe, but 
were not strictly covenant-bound, as were the sons of Jacob. The 
families of these tribal servants multiplied in Egypt ; and it may well 
have been that men of other races joined the Israelites during their 
sojourn in Egypt, and departed from Egypt with them at the Exodus. 
The impression left on us by the Bible narrative is, that while some 
of the rebellions such as Korah's came from the Israelites, and 
rested on purely Israelite misconceptions, the more common and 
ordinary murmurings and rebellions were caused by the ' mixt multi- 
tude,' who could hardly be expected to walk by faith in the unseen 
Jehovah, as were the true Israelites. Aaron's excuse for yielding, 
in the matter of the ' Golden Calf,' seems to imply that the ' people,' 
the ' mixt multitude,' were set on mischief, and he rather sought to 
pacify these half-heathen, than to meet the ideas of the Israelites, 
who, however, were thoroughly carried away by the excitement. 

In Exodus xii. 37, 38, we read : * And the children of Israel 
journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on 
foot that were men, besides children. And a mixed multitude went 
up also with them ; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle.' 

The word translated ' mixt multitude,' in Num. xi. 4 is a peculiar 
one, found in the text only. Hasaph-suph may be best translated 
1 riff-raff.' It denotes a mob of people scraped together. ' They 
consisted probably of remains of the old Semitic population of Egypt, 
whether or not first brought into the district by the Hyksos is uncer- 
tain. As natural objects of suspicion and dislike to the Egyptians 
vvho had lately become masters of the country, they would be anxious 
:o escape, the more especially after the calamities which preceded 
:he Exodus.' (Speaker's Commentary."] 'Some may have been 
Egyptians, impressed by the recent miracles ; some foreigners held 
;o servitude, like the Israelites, and glad to escape from their masters, 
[t is noticeable that the Egyptian writers, in their perverted accounts 
)f the Exodus, made a multitude of foreigners (Hyksos) take part 
vith the Hebrews.' (Professor G. JRawlinson.) 

Such persons came under covenant-obligations by virtue of their 
issociation with the Israelites. If they shared covenant privileges, 
hey must share covenant responsibilities. But, in their case, we can 
lardly look for those helps to obedience which come out of personal 
eligion, which we expect to find in the case of the Israelites. 



62 



84 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 
Saul and Abner's Ignorance of David. 

i SAMUEL xvii. 55 : ' And when Saul saw David go forth against the Philistine, 
he said unto Abner, the captain of the host, Abner, whose son is this youth ? And 
Abner said, As thy soul liveth, O king, I cannot tell.' 

Difficulty. Seeing that David had been for some time the court 
minstrel, it is strange to find that he was not recognised, either by the 
king, or by Abner, the court officer. 

Explanation. It is now fully recognised that the Historical 
Books, in the form we have them, are a compilation from a variety of 
traditions, or historical documents : and careful students can trace 
where the documents have been put together, but not precisely 
fitted. Sometimes the narratives overlap ; sometimes one narrator 
carries his story to its conclusion, and the next narrator gives inter- 
vening incidents. We have, probably, an instance of this kind here. 
The story of David's introduction to Saul, as given in ch. xvi. 14-23, 
belongs to a separate document, which contained no account of the 
conflict with Goliath. It therefore carries on David's relations with 
the court beyond the time of the battle at Ephes-dammim, and in- 
cludes his taking official position as the king's armour-bearer. We 
may recognise that there were existing, at the time, two traditions of 
the circumstances under which David was introduced to court. 
These certainly conflicted in some degree, and both have been 
retained in the Scripture record. 

If we might make the attempt to put the early incidents of David's 
court life in order, we might assume that he was introduced, by one 
of the servants, as a skilful ' player on an harp,' and a likely man to 
soothe the king's mental irritation. But the king, in such a state of 
mind, would take no notice of the player ; and, as his attacks came 
on with extensive intervals, David's services were only occasionally 
required, and he was probably sent for when wanted. Then came 
the conflict with Goliath, and the direction of Saul's attention to 
David, which led him to ask Jesse for the constant attendance of his 
son at court, where David at once took an office as courtier ; but, on 
occasion, exercised his old musical gift in soothing the king's madness. 
It should not occasion any surprise that Abner did not know the 
youth, for the busy military man was not in the least likely to take 
any notice of the court minstrel. 

Ewald is the advocate of the theory of two narrators. One he 
finds in ch. xvi. 14-23, the other in ch. xvii. But concerning the 
work of the first narrator he says : ' It is beyond doubt, on the one 
hand, that it must have been some such extraordinary feat of arms 



SAUL AND ABNERS IGNORANCE OF DAVID. 85 

which first brought David to Saul's notice, as a hero of whose warlike 
capacity he ought to avail himself; and as to the sequel, we know 
from the histories of many ancient nations that in those times a whole 
war might turn on a single combat undertaken with due formalities by 
the heroes of the two armies.' Ewald adds to this passage a sugges- 
tive note : * We assume that even the earlier narrator mentioned the 
single combat between David and Goliath : the passages, ch. xviii. 6 ; 
xix. 5 ; xxi. 10 (xxi. 9), leave us no doubt on this point ; besides, the 
words which describe the final result of the achievement (ch. xviii. i, 
3-5), to judge from their colouring, are from the earlier narrator.' 

Those who object to this explanation of the difficulty, by the theory 
of two conflicting traditions, point out that ' it is quite consistent with 
the genius of Hebrew narrative for the narrator to pursue his theme 
to its ultimate consequences in respect to the leading idea of his narra- 
tive, and then to return to fill up the details which had been omitted. 
Thus the words " he loved him greatly, and he became his armour- 
bearer; and Saul sent to Jesse, saying, Let David stand before me," 
etc., are the ultimate sequence of David's first visit to Saul, and of 
his skill in music, and are, therefore, placed here ; but they did not 
really come to pass till after David's victory over Goliath.' To this 
peculiarity of Hebrew historical writing due attention should be paid. 
\s illustrations of it, references are made to i Sam. xviii. 2 ; xxii. 20 ; 
2 Sam..xvi. 22 ; xvii. i, 17 ; also Gen. xi. 31, 32 ; xii. 1-5 ; Judg. xx. 
md i Sam. xiv. 47-52. 

Kitto gives a very simple and common-sense account of what pro- 
)ably occurred, which certainly relieves the narrative of its principal 
lifficulties, and, whether we regard it as entirely successful or not, is 
:ertainly deeply interesting. ' It would seem that Saul, while under 
he process of cure for his grievous malady, contracted great regard 
or David. " He loved him, and made him his armour-bearer," 
he latter being a mere honorary mark of consideration and attach- 
nent, at a time when there was no actual war. By degrees the in- 
ervals of the king's phrenzy became more distant, and eventually he 
eemed to be altogether cured. The services of David being no 
onger required, he went home to his father, and resumed the care of 
he sheep. By this it would seem that Saul's affection towards his 
ealer cooled as soon as the cure had been effected. The probability 
f this most physicians can vouch from their own experience. Besides, 
: is likely that, from the peculiar nature of his complaint, Saul cared 
ot to be continually reminded, by the presence of his healer, of the 
ifferings he had gone through, and of paroxysms which it humbled 
is proud mind to think had made him an object of compassion in 



86 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

the eyes of his subjects. He therefore made no opposition to the 
application for his son's return home, which Jesse probably made 
when he found that David's services were no longer necessary. An 
interval passed how long we know not, but probably about two or 
three years when we again behold David traversing the road from 
Bethlehem, nearly in the same condition as before. But his appear- 
ance is considerably altered. You would scarcely know him for the 
same person that you saw some three years ago. He was then a 
growing youth ; but he has now attained to greater fulness of stature, 
and to more firmly knit limbs. Above all, his beard has grown ; and 
to those who, like us, remove the beard as soon as it appears, the 
great difference produced by the presence of this appendage on the 
face of one who, a year or two ago, was a beardless youth, is scarcely 
conceivable.' 

Suggested explanations may be thus summarized, (i) Saul's mad- 
ness had prevented any personal observation of the young minstrel. 
(2) In the interval between the service of minstrelsy and the combat 
with Goliath, David had grown, as we say, 'out of memory.' (3) 
Saul's inquiry did not concern David's name, but the rank and posi- 
tion of his family. The inquiry was a suitable one, seeing that 
David was to become the king's son-in-law, according to the king's 
promise of reward to the victor over Goliath. But (4) 'the real 
solution, we cannot but think, lies in the fact that this, and the other 
historical books of the Old Testament, were made up by the inspired 
compiler from well-authenticated traditions current in Israel, and most 
probably preserved in the archives of the great prophetical school 
Two of these are here selected, which, to a certain extent, covei 
the same ground.' It should be observed that, in the earlier passage 
(i Sam. xvi. 14-23), no note of time occurs : this first notice being 
wholly concerned with the influence of David's music on the king's 
mental disease. (Dr. Spence.) 



The Pharaoh that knew not Joseph. 

EXODUS i. 8 : ' Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew nc 
Joseph. 

Question. Have recent discoveries helped towards the identified 
tion of this Pharaoh ? 

Answer. Professor Sayce considers the identification is definitel 
settled by the excavations recently undertaken at Tel el-Maskhut; 
These confirm the opinion of many Egyptian scholars, that th 
Pharaoh of the oppression was the great Ramses II., and the Pharao 



THE PHARAOH THAT KNEW NOT JOSEPH. 87 



of the Exodus his son and successor, Meneptah II., who came to the 
throne about B.C. 1325. Budge gives the list of kings succeeding 
the Hyksos, and forming the i8th and iQth dynasties, as follows : 



i8th Dynasty. 
Ahmes 

Amenhetep I. 
Thothmes I. 
Thothmes II. 
Thothmes III. 
Amenhetep II. 
Thothmes IV. 
Amenhetep III. 
Her-em-heb 
Heretic Kings 



1700 
1666 

1633 
1600 
1600 
1566 

1533 
1500 
1466 
H33 



1 9th Dynasty. 

Ramses I. ... ... 1400 

Setil 1366 

Ramses II. 1333 

Merenptah, or Meneptah 1300 

Seti II. 1266 



Under Thothmes III., and other great monarchs of the i8th 
dynasty, wars of aggression into Asia were carried on, and Egyptian 
armies penetrated as far as the Euphrates. The tribes of Canaan 
were brought under tribute. * On the temple-walls of Karnak at 
Thebes, Thothmes III. (B.C. 1600) gives a list of the Canaanitish 
towns which had submitted to his arms.' Two centuries later the 
same districts had again been overrun by the Egyptian kings, especi- 
ally by Seti I., and Ramses II., the latter 'battling for long years 
against the Hittites on the plains of Canaan, and establishing a line 
of Egyptian fortresses as far north as Damascus.' The argument for 
Ramses II. as the Pharaoh of the oppression is given by Sayce, 
' The accounts of the wars of himself and his predecessors in Canaan, 
show that up to the date of his death that country was not yet in- 
habited by Israelites. Not only is no mention made of them, but 
the history of the Book of Judges precludes our supposing that 
Palestine could have been an Egyptian province after the Israelitish 
conquest. It must have ceased to be tributary to the Pharaohs before 
it was entered by Joshua. Moreover, the name of the city of Ramses 
(Raamses), built by the Israelites in Egypt, points unmistakably to 
the reign of the great Ramses II. himself. The name was given to 
Zoan after its reconstruction by this monarch :' and, singularly, we 
find mention made of a certain class of foreigners, called Aperiu (not 
unlike Hebrew], who were employed by Ramses II. to work at his 
monuments. 

The argument from the excavations of M. Naville is as follows : 
' Tel el-Maskhuta is the name of some large mounds near Tel el- 
Kebir and other places which were the scene of the late war ; and 
M. Naville, who has excavated them for the Egyptian Exploration 
Fund, has found inscriptions in them which show not only that they 
represent an ancient city whose religious name was Pithom, while its 
civil name was Succoth, but also that the founder of the city was 



88 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

Ramses II. In Greek times the city was called Heroopolis, or Ero, 
from the Egyptian word ara, "a store-house," reminding us that 
Pithom and Raamses, which the Israelites built for the Pharaoh, 
were " treasure-cities," Exod. i. n). M. Naville has even discovered 
the treasure-chambers themselves. They are very strongly con- 
structed, and divided by brick partitions from eight to ten feet 
thick, the bricks being sun-baked, and made some with and 
some without straw. The name Pithom in Egyptian Pa-Turn 
signifies the city of the setting sun ; and since it had another name, 
Succoth, we can now understand how it was that the Israelites 
started on their march not from Goshen, but from Succoth (Exod. xiii. 
20) that is, from the very place where they had been working.' Miss 
Whately says : ' Herodotus and others mention Pithom ; Rameses * 
is only mentioned in Exodus ; but its site has been ascertained by the 
discovery of a granite statue of Rameses, between two statues of 
Egyptian gods, with the king's name inscribed repeatedly on different 
parts of it.' 

It would seem, therefore, that the connection of the Israelite op- 
pression with Ramses II. is now definitely fixed ; and it may be 
well to note that this king reigned sixty-seven years ; as co-regent 
with his father, Seti I., for more than half the time. 

Canon Rawlinson thinks Seti I. should be regarded as the op- 
pressor. He explains the reason for the oppression found in the 
political circumstances of the country during Seti's reign : but we 
have observed above how closely Ramses II. was associated with 
him. ' Egypt had at this time lost all those Asiatic possessions which 
had been gained under the earlier kings of the i8th dynasty 
Thothmes I., Thothmes III., and Amen-hetep II. and had retired 
within her own natural borders. South-western Asia had fallen under 
the dominion of the Khita or Hittites, who had gradually extended 
their dominion from the Cappadocian highlands to the low regions of 
Philistia and Western Arabia. In alliance with the other Canaanite 
nations, with the Philistines, and even with the Arabs (Shasu), the 
Hittites threatened an invasion of Egypt, which, it was felt, might 
have the most disastrous consequences. What, if this contingency 
actually occurred, would be the part taken by the Israelites ? Might 
it not be that they would "join themselves to Egypt's enemies, and 
fight against the Egyptians " (Exod. i. 10), and so either help to bring 
them under subjection to the Hittites, or else " get themselves up out 
of the land " ? The Israelites occupied the portion of Egypt which 
the Hittites would first enter ; if they joined the enemy they would 

* The name Ramses is also spelt Rameses. 



THE SCEPTRE IN JUDAH. 89 

deliver into his hands a large tract of most valuable territory, and put 
him into a position from which he would threaten the most important 
of the Egyptian cities Tanis, Heliopolis, Bubastis, Memphis. Re- 
flecting upon this, the Pharaoh of the time Seti I., according to our 
view deemed it incumbent on him to take such measures as should 
seriously weaken and depress his Israelite subjects, crush their 
aspirations, destroy their physical vigour, and by degrees diminish 
their numbers.' 

Geikie sums up modern opinion thus : * It was left to Ramses II., 
the Sesostris of the Greeks the ninth king after Thothmes III., and 
the third monarch of the igth dynasty to earn for himself, especi- 
ally, the evil distinction of the Oppressor of the Hebrews. The 
Exodus is believed by Maspero to have taken place under Seti II., 
the next king but one after Ramses ; but De Rouge", Chabas, 
Lenormant, Sayce, Lepsius, Brugsch, Ebers, and others, agree in 
assigning it to the reign of Meneptah I., Ramses' son and successor.' 

The Speaker's Commentary argues for Aahmes, founder of the 
1 8th dynasty. 

The Sceptre in Judah. 

GENESIS xlix. 10 : ' The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's 
staff from between his feet, until Shiloh come ; and unto him shall obedience of 
the peoples be.' Rev. Ver. 

Difficulty. If Shiloh be the Messiah, it is impossible to prove the 
retention of royal power by Judah right up to Messiahs times. 

Explanation. It has been suggested that this verse should 
read, ' until they come to Shiloh,' and then the history can be shown 
easily to match the prophecy. The first camp of the Israelites was 
stationed at Gilgal, but it was removed to Shiloh, about ten miles 
south of Shechem, and twenty-five miles north of Jerusalem. Judah 
had all along been the foremost tribe in fighting the battles through 
which the people had passed ; and this important rule, or leadership, 
continued until the tribes came to Shiloh, and then there was no 
more need of it. But this rendering is certainly opposed to all the 
ancient versions ; and it may also be noted that the town of Shiloh 
was within the territory of Ephraim, and not of Judah. 

The word must be treated as a proper name, and read either (i) 
Shiloh, the < Peacemaker,' or 'Prince of Peace,' or (2) Sheloh, 'He 
whose right it is.' The reference to Messiah was recognised by all 
Jewish antiquity. ' There can be no doubt that this prophecy was 
one important link in the long chain of prediction which produced 
that general expectation of a Messiah universally prevalent in Judaea 



90 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

at the period of the Christian era, and which Suetonius, in the well- 
known passage in his life of Vespasian, tells us had long and con- 
stantly pervaded the whole of the East.' 

Still it must be frankly admitted that, taking the passage in its 
apparent meaning, as declaring that royalty should be kept in the 
tribe of Judah until the coming of Messiah, history does not confirm 
the prophecy. The Babylonian Captivity destroyed the royalty of 
Judah for a time, and the Roman conquest destroyed it for ever, long 
before Messiah appeared. The question is whether the prophecy 
declares absolute sovereignty for Judah, or only tribal superiority. 
Probably our associations with sceptres have made us put more 
meaning into the words of Jacob than he intended to express. 

All that can wisely be said is well said by Bishop Harold Browne. 
' As regards the fulfilment of this prophecy, it is undoubted that the 
tribal authority, and the highest place in the nation, continued with 
Judah until the destruction of Jerusalem. It is true that, after the 
Babylonish Captivity, the royalty was not in the house of Judah ; but 
the prophecy is not express as to the possession of absolute royalty. 
Israel never ceased to be a nation, Judah never ceased to be a tribe 
with at least a tribal sceptre and lawgivers, or expositors of the Law, 
Sanhedrim or Senators, and with a general pre-eminence in the land, 
nor was there a foreign ruler of the people, till at least the time of 
Herod the Great, just before the birth of the Saviour ; and even 
the Herods, though of Idumsean extraction, were considered as ex- 
ercising a native sovereignty in Judah, which did not quite pass 
away till a Roman procurator was sent thither, after the reign of 
Archelaus, the son of Herod the Great : and at that very time the 
Shiloh came, the Prince of Peace, to whom of right the kingdom 
belonged.' 

The Jordan Memorials. 

JOSHUA iv. 9 : * And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the 
place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood ; and 
they are there unto this day.' 

JOSHUA iv. 20 : ' And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did 
Joshua pitch in Gilgal.' 

Difficulty. There seem to be two contradictory accounts of the 
position found for the twelve-stone memorial. One account leads us to 
think they were piled in the bed of Jordan ; the other finds for them a 
place at Gilgal. 

Explanation. The easiest way to remove this difficulty is to 
assume two distinct sets of stones, and this is done by Geikie. ' An 
event so wonderful could not be allowed to pass without a memorial, 



THE JORDAN MEMORIALS. 9 1 

and a double one was appointed, worthy of it in expressive sim- 
plicity. Twelve of the large stones laid bare in the bed of the river 
were ordered to be carried over to the western side and raised on the 
upper terrace of the valley, in the centre of the new camping-ground, 
while a second twelve were placed on the spot in the channel, where 
the feet of the priests had stood during the crossing.' 

It is difficult, however, to see what purpose could be served by a 
memorial which either the waters would regularly cover, or the first 
flood time overthrow. If any reasonable explanation of the two 
notices can be found, which assumes only one set of stones, we 
should certainly prefer it, and think it altogether more probable. We 
might even admit some confusion in those who, at a later time, 
reported what had occurred, which led them to write so uncertainly. 

The Speaker's Commentary gets over the difficulty of two memorials 
by supposing that the priests stood on the extreme edge of the 
river, and so their memorial would only be reached by the fringe of 
any flood, and might, therefore, stand for generations. 

The German commentators incline to the idea that the verse 9 is 
a ' fragment of a totally different version of the transaction carelessly 
incorporated by the historian.' 

Without discussing the question, Dean Stanley writes of the 
national memorial as if it were a single thing. ' Carried aloft before 
the priests as they left the river-bed were "twelve stones," selected 
by the twelve chiefs of the tribes. These were planted on the upper 
terrace of the plain of the Jordan, and became the centre of the 
first sanctuary of the Holy Land the first place pronounced " holy," 
the " sacred place " of the Jordan valley, where the tabernacle re- 
mained till it was fixed at Shiloh. Gilgal long retained reminiscences 
of its ancient sanctity. The twelve stones taken up from the bed of 
the Jordan continued at least till the time of the composition of the 
Book of Joshua, and seem to have been invested with a reverence 
which came to be regarded at last as idolatrous.' 

The Descendants of Zerubbabel. 

I CHRON. iii. 19, 20 : ' And the sons of Pedaiah were Zerubbabel and Shimei : 
and the sons of Zerubbabel, Meshullam and Hananiah, and Shelomith their 
sister : and Hashubah, and Ohel, and Berechiah, and Hasadiah, Jushab-hesed, 
five.' 

Difficulty. If this Zerubbabel is the prince who led the exiles back 
to Jerusalem, the Book of Chronicles must be a very late composition. 

Explanation. From verses 17, 1 8, we learn that Zerubbabel, 
who is elsewhere called ' the son of Salathiel ' was really his nephew, 



92 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

the son of his brother, Pedaiah, and only his son in the legal sense 
of being his heir. It is generally admitted that this Zerubbabel is the 
leader of the first Return from Babylon, under the edict of Cyrus (B.C. 
dr. 536). If the genealogy, as compiled by the writer of this Book 
of Chronicles includes him and his sons, it is clear that the book 
must have been composed, or put together from existing materials, 
after the Return. 

' That the Book of Chronicles was composed after the return from 
the Captivity is evident, not only from its closing passage, but from 
other portions of it. A comparison of i Chron. ix. 10-16 with 
Nehem. xi. 10-17 w ^ show that almost the whole of i Chron. ix. 
belongs to the period after the Captivity. Ch. iii. of the same part of 
the work contains a genealogy of the descendants of Zerubbabel 
(verses 19-24), which is continued down to, at least, the third genera- 
tion. The date of i Chronicles cannot well be earlier than B.C. 538, 
but may be later, and is indeed thought by some to be very consider- 
ably later.' (Speaker's Commentary.} 

1 The remarkable genealogy of Zerubbabel is clear evidence on 
which we must bring the compilation of Chronicles to a date sub- 
sequent to the Return and the partial resettlement of those who 
returned, some "in the cities," and some "in Jerusalem." Either 
the verses relating to the family of Zerubbabel must be proved to be 
an interpolation or addition by a later hand (as is held by Eichhorn, 
Dahler, Jahn, Keil), or we are brought down to a still lower date. 
Even when (with Bertheau) we have counted the six entries of verse 
2 1 as names all of brothers, six generations appear to succeed Zerubba- 
bel. However, Keil, Movers, Havernick, and others think that 
Zerubbabel's genealogy in this passage really stops with the grandsons 
Pelatiah and Jesaiah. And there is some reason for supposing with 
Bishop Hervey, that these six names should not stand as six genera- 
tions after Zerubbabel. But if both these theories be inadmissible, 
we are still not necessarily driven to Prideaux's position, that the six 
generations, and the average length which he assumes for them, will 
bring us to the time of Alexander the Great, B.C. 356-324. There can 
be little doubt that he overestimates the average of Eastern genera- 
tions, and, if this be reduced to tiventy years, we shall only be brought 
to a date varying between B.C. 420-410, within the probable lifetime 
of Nehemiah, and the very possible lifetime of Ezra. While, then, 
such a date as this is probably the latest that needs to be accepted, it 
stands to reason that the date at the other extremity must not be 
placed simply at the time of the Return. In the nature of things, a 
work like the Chronicles, though but a matter of compilation, could 



IDENTIFICA TION OF AHASUER US. 93 

not be executed off-hand and rapidly at such a time. On the con- 
trary, the unsettledness and the stir of the times would constitute the 
unlikeliest of conditions. Our general conclusion would be that, 
judging from internal evidence, the date of compilation must be 
placed between a limit some several years subsequent to the Return 
and the year B.C. 410 or thereabout how much nearer the latter than 
the former still uncertain.' (Professor Barker, in l Pupit Commentary'} 

Identification of Ahasuerus. 

ESTHER i. I : ' Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus (this is Ahasuerus 
which reigned, from India even unto Ethiopia, over an hundred and seven and 
twenty provinces).' 

Difficulty. This name does not appear in the Persian annals. 

Explanation. Though the name does not appear in this precise 
form, the fault is only in this form not adequately representing the 
Hebrew translation of the name as it stands in the Persian annals. 
The name of this monarch that is familiar to us, through Grecian 
history, is Xerxes, which is a Greek representation of the Persian 
name Khshayarsha (the ruling eye). This king ruled from B.C. 485 
to 464. Represented strictly in the Hebrew spelling, this name would 
read Akhashverosh, which is easily seen to be the same as Ahasuerus. 
The addition of the A at the beginning of the word is only a help in 
the difficult pronunciation. 

Ellicotfs Commentary points out that the Bible representation of 
the character of Ahasuerus, and the classical account of the character 
of Xerxes, precisely correspond. * Ahasuerus is an ordinary specimen 
of an Eastern despot, who knows no law save the gratification of his 
own passions, and of the passing caprice of the moment. He sends 
for nis queen in defiance of decency and courtesy, to grace a rival, 
and deposes her for a refusal simply indicative of self-respect ; he is 
willing to order the destruction of a whole people throughout his 
empire, at the request of the favourite of the time ; when the tide of 
favour turns, the favourite is not only disgraced, but he and all his 
family are ruthlessly destroyed, and Mordecai rises from a humble 
position to be the new vizier. Thus, though God shapes all this for 
good, the instrument is distinctly evil. How similar is the picture 
shown in the undying story of Herodotus, of the king who, reckless 
of the overthrow of his father's armies at Marathon ten short years 
before, will make a fresh attempt to crush the nation on whose 
success the freedom of the world was to hinge ; who comes with a 
host so vast that, in the poet's hyperbole, they drink the rivers dry; who 



94 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

has a throne erected to view the slaughter of Leonidas and his three 
hundred ; who gazes from Mount ^Egaleos at the vast fleet in the 
Bay of Salamis, soon to be routed and broken by Themistocles ! 
The king, who a few weeks before has the Hellespont scourged, 
because it presumes to be stormy and break his bridges, now flees 
away in panic, leaving his fleet to its fate.' 

No earlier Persian king can be meant, because before this India 
was not included in Persian territory. This Xerxes was the son of 
Darius Hystaspis. 

Rawlinson confirms this identification : ' The name Ahasuerus is 
undoubtedly the proper Hebrew equivalent for the Persian word 
which the Greeks represented by Xerxes. . . . And we are at once 
struck with the strong resemblance which his character bears to that 
assigned by the classical writers to the celebrated son of Darius. Proud, 
self-willed, amorous, careless of contravening Persian customs ; reck- 
less of human life, yet not actually bloodthirsty ; impetuous, facile, 
changeable, the Ahasuerus of Esther corresponds in all respects to the 
Greek portraiture of Xerxes, which is not the mere picture of an 
Oriental despot, but has various peculiarities which distinguish it 
even from the other Persian kings.' 

Cambyses is called Ahasuerus in Ezra iv. 6, but he cannot be 
meant. 



Mosaic Preparations for a Time of Kingship. 

DEUT. xvii. 14, 15 : 'When thou art come unto the land which the Lord thy 
God giveth thee, and shah possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shall say, I will 
set a kiny over me, like as all the nations that are about me ; thou shalt in any 
wise set him king over thee, whom the Lord thy God shall choose : one from 
amonjj ihy brethren shalt thou set king over thee : thou mayest not set a stranger 
over thee, which is not thy brother.' 

Difficulty. Seeing that Moses anticipated the desire for kingship^ 
and expressed no strong; feeling as to its sinfulness, we cannot accuse 
the people of doing a wrong thing when, in the time of Samuel^ the 
demand was made. 

Explanation. The composition of the Book of Deuteronomy 
is the subject of very serious dispute, and it cannot be said that at 
present any definite conclusions can be arrived at. What is certain is, 
that it has been edited, and in the editing has received important 
additions. It is difficult now to decide what precise portions came 
from the hand of Moses, or belong to the age of Moses. The para- 
graph from which the above verses come may^ therefore, be one of 
the later additions, and may represent the wisdom of someone after 



MOSAIC PREPARATIONS. 95 

the event, and an effort to get Mosaic authority for the national 
desire. 

On the face of it, it certainly is passing strange that Moses should 
establish the Theocracy, and guard it round with the most terrible 
sanctions, and at the same time prepare for the time when the 
Theocracy should be replaced by an ordinary monarchy. To provide 
for the change was surely doing a good deal towards preparing for 
the change ; and it certainly takes away something of the sinfulness of 
the people in desiring the change. They might reasonably plead, 
that the time had come for doing what God had arranged for in His 
plans for the future of His people. 

This is stating the difficulty which suggests itself to every thought- 
ful mind. Let us see how that difficulty has been met by trustworthy 
Bible writers. 

Bishop Wordsworth says : * Here is a prophetic provision for a 
contingency, which God, in His Divine foresight, foreknew would 
arise. He does not approve the act, but controls it, as He does in 
the case of divorce.' But this is 'cutting the knot' rather than 
making the attempt to untie it. 

The Speaker's Commentary deals with the argument that, as the 
Mosaic legislation is not monarchical, Moses is not likely to have 
prepared for, or approved, the institution of monarchy ; and so no 
reference is made to the Book of Deuteronomy by the narrative in 
i Sam. viii.-xii., and as the prohibitions against the accumulation of 
horses, wives, and treasures, and, indeed, the reference to horses at 
all, belong to the age of Solomon, the passage in Deuteronomy must 
have been penned long after the date of Moses, and, indeed, sub- 
sequently to the reign of Solomon, and most probably in the age of 
Jeremiah. Its reply brings forward some points of importance. A 
statesman may foresee, and provide for, what he cannot personally 
approve. This is not the only reference to kings found in the 
Pentateuch. See Gen. xvii. 16 ; xxxvi. 31 ; xlix. 10 ; Exod. xxii. 28 ; 
Num. xxiv. 17 ; Deut. xxviii. 36. * It is not too much to say that the 
presage of royalty to come pervades every part of the early annals of 
the people.' For the full argument, see Vol. I., part ii., pp. 863-865. 

' The answers to the arguments for the later origin of this passage, 
as given above, may be briefly summarized thus : Moses does not 
provide for a monarchy, but prophetically recognises a future demand 
for it ; and, apart from his own approval, secures that those who may 
be called upon to set it up should not be taken at unawares, and find 
it difficult to harmonize the principles of monarchy with those of the 
Theocracy. Moreover, the reference to kings and kingship in this 



96 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

passage does not stand alone in the Pentateuch. Also direct quota- 
tion from early books is not the manner of Old Testament writers, 
but Samuel's remarks are in almost verbal harmony with the passage 
in Deuteronomy. Samuel does not clash with Moses in calling a sin 
what Moses had permitted, as what Samuel recognises as sin is the 
spirit of distrust and impatience manifested by the people. The 
caution against return to Egypt is exactly in the manner of Moses ; 
and the excesses forbidden are not peculiar to the later times of 
Jewish monarchy, but characteristic of all Eastern despotisms.' 

Kitto, explaining the reasons which induced the people to ask for 
a king in the time of Samuel, says : * The magnates of Israel who 
are the parties we behold moving in this matter may also have con- 
sidered that, although a form of government had been organized by 
Moses, in which the presence of a human king was not recognised, 
he had clearly contemplated the probability that a regal government 
might eventually be adopted, and had even laid down certain rules 
involving principles by which the conduct of their future king was 
to be guided. This, it might be urged, was inconsistent with any 
absolute interdiction of the erection of the state into a temporary- 
monarchy ; and the time had now come, if ever, which the wise and 
far-seeing lawgiver had contemplated.' 

Note. It should not be withheld from our readers, that the theory 
of the composite character of the Book of Deuteronomy is gaining 
favour with our English exegetes. One of the latest deliverances on 
the subject is by Canon Cheyne, in his ' Jeremiah, his Life and Times.' 
His conclusion is as follows : ' It only remains to explain the phrase 
" the original Book of Deuteronomy." We can scarcely claim to 
restore with precision the very book which made such an impression 
on Josiah. It is undoubtedly contained in the middle part of Deut- 
eronomy ; the only question is whether the whole of this part belongs 
to the original book. I think that, allowing for some few later asser- 
tions and glosses, we may regard chs. v.-xxvi. as the original " book of 
(Divine) instruction." It is probable that chs. i. i iv. 44, and iv. 45- 
49, are two distinct introductions, composed independently by two 
different writers, close students of the original " book of torah " in 
that which is most distinctive of it, the former of whom may perhaps 
have had some really Deuteronomic material to work upon.' 

Canon Cook regards the passage relating to the monarchy as one of 
the proofs of the late composition of great parts of the book of 
Deuteronomy. 



THE FIRST SIEGE OF JERUSALEM. 97 



The First Siege of Jerusalem. 

JUDGES i. 8 : ' Now the children of Judah had fought against Jersusalem, and 
had taken it, and smitten it with the edge of the sword, and set the ciiy on fire.' 

JUDGES i. 21 : 'And the children of Benjamin did not drive out the lebusites 
that inhabited Jerusalem ; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin 
in Jerusalem unto this day.' 

Difficulty. Two tribes are spoken of as bearing relation to this 
siege, and what is related of their doings appears to be contradictory. 

Explanation. In all probability, the reference to Benjamin in 
verse 2 1 is a substitution for Judah. The nearly identical passage in 
Joshua xv. 63 reads thus : * As for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of 
Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out : but the 
Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem unto this 
day.' Observe the precise connection in which these two verses 
stand in Joshua and in Judges. ' Probably the original reading 
Judah was altered in later times to Be?ijamin, because Jebus was 
within the border of Benjamin.' 

Jerusalem was on the borders both of Judah and of Benjamin. 
Properly it belongs to Benjamin, but the conquest of the fortress of 
Zion by David naturally caused its closer identification with Judah. 

The pluperfect tense in verse 8 (had fought) is not represented in 
the original ; and in the Revised Version the sentence reads : ' And 
the children of Judah fought against Jerusalem, and took it, and 
smote it with the edge of the sword.' The narrative given in Judges 
refers, at least in part, to the attacks made on Jebus, or Jerusalem, 
in the time of Joshua. Connecting the several notices, we may infer 
that Jerusalem was only taken once, and that this was a success, re- 
warding the energy and enterprise of Judah during the lifetime of 
Joshua. Whether the success referred on4y to the city, or included 
also the fortress, is not made clear to us, but the Jebusites certainly 
returned to their city, and gradually recovered complete possession ; 
later notices indicating that the people of Judah and Benjamin lived 
on pleasant neighbourly terms with them. 

Jerusalem was wholly a Jebusite city in the lifetime of Phinehas 
(Judg. xx. 28), and so it continued till the reign of David 
(2 Sam. v. 6-9). 

Smith's Biblical Dictionary makes the first siege to take place 
immediately after the death of Joshua, about B.C. 1400. It assumes 
that the men of Judah attacked it, and later on the men of Benjamin. 
Josephus adds to our knowledge by informing us that the siege lasted 
some time, that the part which was taken at last, and in which the 

7 



98 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

slaughter was made, was the lower city ; but that the upper city was 
so strong, by reason of its walls, and also of the nature of the place, 
that the army relinquished the attempt, and moved off to Hebron. 

In the Cambridge Bible for Schools , the Rev. J. Lias suggests 
another mode of harmonizing the above verses, but it is only a guess, 
and has no new facts upon which it may be based. He supposes 
that Judah and Simeon took Jerusalem, and set the city on fire ; but 
the Jebusites retired into a citadel from which their enemies failed to 
dislodge them, and a later attempt made by Benjamin also proved 
unsuccessful. The consequence of the Jebusites holding their citadel 
was, that ultimately they succeeded in reoccupying the whole city. 

The Different Accounts of Saul's Death. 

1 SAMUEL xxxi. 4 : ' Then said Saul unto his armour-bearer, Draw thy sword, 
and thrust me through therewith ; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me 
through, and abuse me. But his armour-bearer would not ; for he was sore afraid. 
Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it.' 

2 SAMUEL i. 8-10: 'And he said unto me, Who art thou ? And I answered 
him, I am an Amalekite. He said unto me again, Stand, I pray thee, upon me, 
and slay me ; for anguish is come upon me, because my life is yet whole in me. So 
I stood upon him, and slew him, because I was sure that he could not live after he 
was fallen.' 

Difficulty. Both these accounts cannot be true. 

Explanation. The differences may be accounted for in two 
ways, (i) We may assume the Amalekite to have made up a tale in 
hope of extorting a reward from David ; or (2) we may think that the 
dishonour of having been killed in cold blood by a slave was covered 
over by the invention of a story that he killed himself. 

What can be said in favour of each of these theories may be stated 
briefly. The story told by the Amalekite is certainly natural and 
consistent, and it is specially worthy of credence, because he narrates 
his own doings, and brought with him the crown, or head-dress, of 
the king, and his armlet. This Amalekite could not have been a 
soldier in Saul's army, and he is not likely to have been in the 
Philistine army. He was what we should call a ' camp-follower/ and 
came on the battle-field in order to strip the slain and the wounded. 
It is probable that Saul had only swooned after the injury he had in- 
flicted on himself, though he was desperately, perhaps mortally, 
hurt. He had recovered so far as to sit up, and lean heavily on his 
spear ; looking round he saw this man, and called him to him, and 
begged to be put out of his misery. The Amalekite, as a bitter 
enemy of Saul, would have no compunction whatever in giving him 
the finishing stroke, and might even think of his act as being a 
merciful one. Then the thought struck him that he might get a 



THE DIFFERENT ACCOUNTS OF SAUL'S DEATH. 99 

large reward by carrying his tidings, with adequate proofs of its 
truthfulness, to David. It should be noticed that David does not 
show any suspicion of its being a made-up story. He condemns the 
Amalekite from the point of view of his own sense of duty, which 
could not apply to the Amalekite. He had him put to death 
because he had ' stretched forth his hand to destroy the Lord's 
anointed.' (See ch. xxvi. 9-11 ) 

The Speaker's Commentary, Keil, Lange, Geikie, etc., regard the 
Amalekite's story as an invention in order to get rewards from David. 
Josephus, Ewald, Stanley, etc., think the story is a true one, and can 
be reconciled with the earlier narrative. 

It is evident that the accounts of the attempted suicide of Saul 
and his armour-bearer can only have come by ' hearsay.' It was the 
current explanation of their deaths, but it does not appear to have 
been based on the authority of any actual observation or knowledge. 
As the body of Saul was carried off by the men of Jabesh-Gilead, the 
nature of his wounds may have given sufficient ground for the theory 
of suicide. Of the two narratives, that of the Amalekite seems to 
have the most satisfactory historical foundation. 

Both statements may, however, be true. Wounded and spent, 
Saul may have tried to put an end to his own life. He was mortally 
wounded, but he rallied for a brief space. Just then the Amalekite 
came up, and finished the bloody work ; then, when the king was 
dead, he ' stripped the royal insignia ' from the lifeless corpse, and 
carried the things to David. 

David's Siege of Jerusalem. 

2 SAMUEL v. 6-8 (Rev. Ver.) : 'And the king and his men went to Jerusalem 
against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, which spake unto David, saying, 
Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither : 
thinking, David cannot come in hither. Nevertheless David took the stronghold 
of Zion ; the same is the city of David. And David said on that day, Whosoever 
smiteth the Jebusites, let him get up to the watercourse, and smite the lame and 
the blind, that are hated of David's soul. Wherefore they say, There are the blind 
and the lame ; he cannot come into the house.' Compare the marginal render- 
ings of Rev. Ver. 

Difficulties. It is not easy to understand what active connection 
{ blind and lame ' people could have had with a state of siege ; nor how 
a fortress on a hill could be successfully besieged by means of the water- 
course. 

Explanation. The narrative clearly assumes a general im- 
pression that the fortress of Jebus was so impregnable by nature, that 
no human defence of it was needed. Accepting this as the senti- 

72 



ioo HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

ment, David in effect says, ' You trust in your natural position, then 
that natural position I will overcome, and reach you by means of the 
watercourse down the face of your cliff.' It is boast against boast. 
The Jebusites say, ' The blind and the lame will suffice to keep you 
out.' David says (but not for the Jebusites to hear), 'Your very 
watercourse shall let me in.' This is the general explanation, but the 
passage needs to be examined carefully and in detail. 

So far as the earlier history of Jerusalem can be traced, it seems to 
have been a city, guarded by a fortress, crowning the hill afterwards 
known as Zion, in the time of the Israelite invasion. The King of 
Jerusalem was defeated and slain by Joshua (Josh. x. 23-26 ; 
xii. 10), and the city was subsequently taken and destroyed by 
Judah (Judg. i. 7, 8). These earlier notices do not distinguish 
between the city and the fortress, but as the Israelites were not pro- 
vided with siege instruments, it seems probable that they made no 
attempt on the fortress. So the existing impression of its impregna- 
bility remained up to David's time, when the fortress and the city 
both seem to have been in the hands of the Jebusites. (See 
Judg. xix. u, 12.) 

The position of the fortress was certainly a strong one, in view of 
the sieaje artillery of those times. Zion was the highest of the hills 
of Jerusalem, so it could not be commanded by any force on either 
of the others ; and it was surrounded on three sides by deep valleys, 
the sides being so rugged and precipitous that only hardy moun- 
taineers would attempt to climb them. It is clear that the Jebusites 
were so over-confident in their position, that they could venture to 
taunt their enemy in the usual extravagant Eastern style. Roberts, 
writing on Goliath's taunting of David, says : ' The rodomontade of 
Goliath is still the favourite way of terrifying an enemy. " Begone, 
or I will give thy flesh to the jackals !" " The crows shall soon 
have thy carcase." " Yes, the teeth of the dogs shall soon have 
hold of thee." " The eagles are ready." ' The expression in verse 6 
is a taunt of this kind. ' In foolhardy confidence the Jebusite chiefs 
even dared David to attack the stronghold, boasting that the blind 
and the lame were enough to keep him out of a place so strong.' 
There is no need to assume that any ' blind and lame ' were actually 
there : the expression is in the figurative style so familiar to the 
Easterns. 

The rendering of verse 6 given in the Speaker's Commentary is 
suggestive. ' And (the Jebusite) spake to David, saying, Thou shalt 
not come hither, but the blind and the lame shall keep thee off.' 
'The verb " keep off" is not in the infinitive, as some say, but in the 



DA VID'S SIEGE VFJERVti^LRM.r^ 101 

perfect, in the singular number, preceding, as it does, the subject, 
" There shall keep thee off the lame and the blind." ' 

Different explanations are given of the way in which David pro- 
posed to take the fortress. In the A.V. we read (verse 8), * Whoso- 
ever getteth up the gutter.' The word 'gutter' is only used here 
and in Ps. xlii. 7, where it is rendered 'waterspouts,' or ' waterpipes.' 
But what the waterspout or watercourse was, it is not possible to 
discover. Lord Arthur Heruey says : ' The only access to the 
citadel was where the water had worn a channel (some understand a 
subterranean channel), and where there was, in consequence, some 
vegetation in the rock.' Wordsworth proposes to correct the transla- 
tion of the sentence, and read, ' Whosoever smiteth the Jebusites, let 
him cast down into the gutter the lame and the blind, hated by 
David's soul.' In this he is supported by Ewald, Bochart, and Keil. 
Ellicotfs Commentary approves of this rendering, but improves upon 
it by reading, ' Whosoever smites the Jebusites, let him hurl into the 
watercourses (that is, down the precipice) the lame and the blind.' 
David simply takes up and uses the expression of the taunt. He 
does not mean actually lame and blind persons, but the persons, 
whoever they might be, who were set to defend the fortress. Geikie.^ 
in a footnote, says : ' A great shaft from the hill of Jerusalem to a 
covered aqueduct leading from the fountain of the Virgin has been 
thought by some to be meant. It is supposed that Joab and his 
men reached this shaft by wading along the subterranean aqueduct ; 
and having ascended it, burst on the townsmen, when least expected, 
inside the town itself.' It seems agreed that a storming party must 
have been formed, and of its doings Joab, as the leader, obtained the 
chief credit. 

Hiram's Contract with Solomon. 

I KINGS v. 9 : ' My servants shall bring them down from Lebanon unto the 
sea ; and I will convey them by sea in floats unto the place that thou shalt appoint 
me, and will cause them to be discharged there, and thou shalt receive them : and 
thou shalt accomplish my desire, in giving food for my household.' 

Question. What points of interest attach to this contract ? 

Answer. They are chiefly connected with the difficult work of 
conveying large trees, such as cedars, from Lebanon to Jerusalem. 
The details are given by Archdeacon Farrar. ' Hiram, as we learn 
from a fragment of Menander of Ephesus, preserved in Josephus, was 
the son of a king named Abibaal, and had ascended the throne in 
early youth in B.C. 1001. He was in the eleventh year of his reign 
when Solomon, who had now been king for three years, entered into 



102 HA.NBBdQg OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

close relations with him. His alliance was of the utmost importance 
for the future commerce of Israel, and alone rendered possible the 
splendid buildings which now began to adorn Jerusalem. He 
reigned thirty-four years, and died at the age of fifty-three. Solomon, 
welcoming the proffered friendship of the Tyrian king, begged him 
to allow his skilled workmen to hew cedar-trees and cypress-trees out 
of Lebanon, and Hiram in return for annual gifts of twenty thousand 
cors of wheat and barley, and twenty thousand " baths " of oil, gave 
him large assistance. The labour involved was immense. The trees 
were sent down the heights of Lebanon by the process technically 
known as schlittage, and thence by road or river to the seashore. 
(Schlittage is still much used in the Vosges to carry trees downhill. 
They are pushed along an artificial path called vovtou, made of 
rounded trunks.) Huge rafts of the costly timber were thence 
floated by sea to Joppa, a hundred miles, and then, with infinite toil, 
were dragged about thirty-five miles up the steep and rocky roads to 
Jerusalem. These works required a levy, or " tribute of men," out of 
all Israel, to the number of thirty thousand, who worked in relays of 
ten thousand for three months, of which one month was spent at 
Lebanon, and two at home. Adoniram was at the head of this army 
of soccage labourers, who are not called bondmen, though such they 
practically were.' 

Van Lennep says : ' In Solomon's day the servants of King Hiram 
cut the cedars of Lebanon, and, making them into rafts, floated them 
to Joppa, the port appointed by the Jewish king. In the same 
manner, the timber which grows abundantly on the northern coast of 
Asia Minor is cut down by the Sultan's servants, made into rafts at 
Sinope, and other ports on the Black Sea, and conveyed to the 
capital, for the supply of the imperial navy yard, and for house- 
building.' 

Burder speaks of c two modes of conveying wood in floats. The 
first, by pushing single trunks of trees into the water, and suffering 
them to be carried along by the stream ; this was commonly adopted 
as regarded firewood. The other was ranging a number of planks 
close to each other in regular order, binding them together, and 
steering them down the current. The earliest ships or boats were 
nothing else than rafts, or a collection of deals and planks bound 
together. By the Greeks they were called schedai, and by the Latins 
rates: 

' The Phoenician cities had very little arable territory of their own ; 
cereals and oil were largely derived from Judaea. So Hiram agreed 
to accept for his timber, and for the services of his workmen, a 



THE IDENTIFICA TION OF ARA UNAH. 103 

certian annual payment of grain and oil, both of them the best of 
their kind, for the sustentation of his court. Herodotus tells us that, 
in a similar way, the Persian monarchs received from the subject 
nations a tribute in kind, which was applied in the same way. The 
supply for the court was distinct from the feeding of the work-people 
employed in cutting the trees.' 

The Identification of Araunah. 

2 SAMUEL xxiv. 16 : * And the angel of the Lord was by the threshing-place of 
Araunah the Jebusite.' 

Question. Can any information be obtained as to the person, 
standing^ and relations of this man, who is so casually introduced into 
the narrative ? 

Answer. All we can actually know about him is the account of 
his negotiation with David, as recorded in 2 Sam. xxiv. 20-25, an( ^ 
i Chron. xxi. 18-27. There is a suggestive sentence in the A.V. of 
i Sam. xxiv. 23, ' All these things did Araunah, as a king give unto a 
king,' which may indicate that Araunah was a former King of 
Jerusalem ; but the sentence is a doubtful translation. The Rev. Ver. 
renders the sentence thus : * All this, O king, doth Araunah give 
unto the king.' The corresponding clause in Chronicles reads : 
' And Oman said unto David, Take it to thee, and let my lord the 
king do that which is good in his eyes.' 

We can only say that the negotiation seems conducted on terms 
of equality, but perhaps we should see in it no more than the 
characteristic Eastern politeness in bargaining. The fact that 
Araunah had property in that situation certainly suggests that he 
must have been one of the old Jebusite princes ; but his name gives 
us no hint of his earlier associations. Oman seems to be the Hebrew 
form of the name, and Araunah (or Avarnah, Aranyah, Aravnah) the 
Jebusite form. How he came to be permitted to retain his property 
during David's reign is not explained. It is only clear that he had 
given his allegiance to David, and he may have become a proselyte 
to Mosaism. 

The conjectures as to the previous standing of Araunah, which, 
we have shown above, are based on an incorrect rendering of a text, 
are very beautifully given by Dean Stanley, and are sufficiently 
reasonable, though proof of their truth is not forthcoming. ' Imme- 
diately outside the eastern walls of the city of Jerusalem was a spot 
well known as belonging to a wealthy chief of the conquered race of 
Jebus ; one who, according to tradition, was spared by David from 



io 4 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

old friendship, perhaps contracted in his wanderings, at the time of 
the capture of the city, who, according to the probable interpretation 
of the sacred text, had been the king of the ancient Jebus. (Note on 
2 Sam. xxiv. 23 ; in the original the expression is much stronger than 
in the A.V. " Araunah the king.") On his property was a thresh- 
ing-floor, beside a rocky cave where he and his sons were engaged in 
threshing the corn gathered in from the harvest. Beside the rocky 
threshing-floor the two princes met the fallen king of the ancient 
fortress, the new king of the restored capital, each moved alike by 
the misfortunes of a city which in different senses belonged to each. 
Araunah, with his four sons, had hid himself in the cave which ad- 
joined the threshing-floor, and crept out with a profound obeisance 
as he saw the conqueror of his race approach. The Jewish king 
asked of his heathen predecessor the site of the threshing-floor ; the 
Jebusite king gave with a liberality equal to the generosity with which 
David insisted in paying the price for it. It was the meeting of two 
ages. Araunah, as he yields that spot, is the last of the Canaanites, 
the last of that stern old race that we discern in any individual form 
and character. David, as he raises that altar, is the close harbinger 
of the reign of Solomon, the founder of a new institution which 
another was to complete.' 

There is an apparent contradiction between the amounts paid to 
Araunah, as given in the older and the later histories. In 2 Sam. 
xxiv. 22-24, it will be seen that the negotiation was strictly for the 
materials of sacrifice. What Araunah offered was not the estate, but 
distinctly c the oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing instruments and 
other instruments of the oxen for wood.' The fifty shekels of silver 
would be an adequate price for these materials of sacrifice, but we 
cannot imagine it to be a suitable price to pay for a man's estate. 
The word 'threshing-floor,' in verse 24, should plainly be rendered 
'threshing instruments,' as in verse 22. 

The record given by the later author, in i Chron. xxi. 25, includes 
the entire negotiation, and supplements the earlier account. What 
appears to have been the fact is, that in usual Eastern fashion the 
negotiation was prolonged. Araunah did not want to part with his 
property, and tried to limit the sale to the oxen and to the threshing 
instruments. For these a price was at last fixed, and then David 
persisted in purchasing the threshing-floor, and at last 600 shekels 
of gold were fixed as the price to be given for the place. Whether 
this included the fifty shekels of silver, or was extra to it, does not 
clearly appear ; but the renewed negotiation may have been settled 
by fixing the 600 gold shekels as the all-inclusive price, We have, 



THE IDENTIFICATION OF SHISHAK. 105 

hen, in Samuel a true account of the negotiation up to a certain 
>oint, and in Chronicles a record of the completion of the negotia- 
ion. 

When we realize how large the area was which David purchased, 
he 600 gold shekels was only a fitting price ; fifty shekels of silver 
ould not have been the agreed price for many acres of valuable 
ind. 

The Identification of Shishak. 

I KINGS xiv. 25 : ' And it came to pass in the fifth year of Rehoboam, that 
ihishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem.' 

Question. What accounts of this king, and of his expedition, are 

be found in the Egyptian annals ? 

Answer. Up to the time of this king, Scripture speaks only in 
. general way of the Pharaoh of the day. Shishak is the first 
J haraoh whose name is given. The Hebrew name 'Shishak' repre- 
ents almost exactly the Egyptian name, ordinarily written ' Shes- 
ieuk,' or 'Sheshonk,' or 'Sheshek,' and, by Manetho, ' Sesonchis.' 
Wholly absent from all the earlier monuments, it appears suddenly 

1 those of the twenty-second (Bubastite) dynasty, where it is borne 
y no less than four monarchs, besides occurring also among the 
ames of private individuals. This abundance would be somewhat 
uzzling, were it not for the fact that one only of the four monarchs 
> a warrior, or leads any expedition beyond the borders. The 
ecords of the time leave no doubt that the prince who received 
eroboam was Sheshonk L, the founder of the Bubastite line, the 
on of Namrot and Tentespeh, the first king of the twenty-second 
y nasty.' 

' The Palestinian expedition of Sheshonk I. forms the subject of a 
^markable bas-relief, which, on his return from it, he caused to be 
xecuted in commemoration of its complete success. Selecting the 
reat Temple of Karnak, at Thebes, which Seti I. and Rameses II. 
ad already adorned profusely with representations of their victories, 
e built against its southern external wall a fresh portico or colon- 
ade, known to Egyptologists as the " portico of the Bubastites," and 
arved upon the wall itself, to the east of his portico, a memorial of 
is grand campaign. First, he represented himself in his war 
ostume, holding by the hair of their heads, with his left hand, 
lirty-eight captive Asiatic chiefs, and with an iron mace uplifted in 
is right threatening them with destruction. Further, he caused 
imself to be figured a second time, and represented in the act of 
,'ading captive a hundred and thirty-three cities or tribes, each speci- 



io6 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

fied by name, and personified in an individual form, accompanied by 
a cartouche containing their respective names. In the physiognomies 
of these ideal figures the critical acumen or lively imagination of a 
French historian sees rendered "with marvellous ethnographic cor- 
rectness " the Jewish type of countenance ; but less gifted travellers 
do not find anything very peculiar in the profiles, which, whether 
representing Jews or Arabs, are almost exactly alike.' 

The above extracts are taken from Professor Rawlinson's earlier 
book ; in his later a description of the Shishak invasion is given. 
' Sober students of history will regard Shishak (Sheshonk) simply as a 
member of a family which, though of foreign extraction, had been 
long settled in Egypt, and had worked its way into a high position 
under the priest-kings of Herhor's line, retaining a special connection 
with Bubastis, the place which it had from the first made its home. 
Sheshonk's grandfather, who bore the same name, had had the 
honour of intermarrying into the royal house, having taken to wife 
Meht-en-hont, a princess of the blood, whose exact parentage is un- 
known to us. His father, Namrut, had held a high military office, 
being commander of the Libyan mercenaries, who at this time 
formed the most important part of the standing army. Sheshonk 
himself, thus descended, was naturally in the front rank of Egyptian 
court officials. ... In monarchies like the Egyptian it is not very 
difficult for an ambitious subject, occupying a certain position, to 
seize the throne ; but it is far from easy for him to retain it. Unless 
there is a general impression of the usurper's activity, energy, and 
vigour, his authority is liable to be soon disputed, or even set at 
nought. It behoves him to give indications of strength and breadth 
of character, or of a wise, far-seeing policy, in order to deter rivals 
from attempting to undermine his power. Sheshonk early let it be 
seen that he possessed both caution and far-reaching views by his 
treatment of a refugee who, shortly after his accession, sought his 
court. This was Jeroboam, one of the highest officials in the neigh- 
bouring kingdom of Israel. ... At the time of Solomon's demise, 
Jeroboam was allowed to return to Palestine, and to foment the dis- 
content which it was foreseen would terminate in separation. The 
two kings had, no doubt, laid their plans. Jeroboam was first to see 
what he could effect unaided, and then, if difficulty supervened, his 
powerful ally was to come to his assistance. For the Egyptian 
monarch to have appeared in the first instance would have roused 
Hebrew patriotism against him. Sheshonk waited till Jeroboam 
had, to a certain extent, established his kingdom, had set up a new 
worship, blending Hebrew with Egyptian notions, and had suffi- 



THE IDENTIFICATION OF SHISHAK. 107 

.iently tested the affection or disaffection towards his rule of the 
r arious classes of his subjects. He then marched out to his assist- 
ince. Levying a force of 1,200 chariots, 60,000 horse (query 6,000), 
ind footmen " without number " (2 Chron. xii. 3), chiefly from the 
Libyan and Ethiopian mercenaries, which now formed the strength 
)f the Egyptian armies, he proceeded into the Holy Land, entering 
t in "three columns," and so spreading his troops far and wide over 
he southern country. Rehoboam, Solomon's son and successor, 
lad made such preparation as was possible against the attack. He 
lad anticipated it from the moment of Jeroboam's return, and he 
lad carefully guarded the main routes whereby his country could be 
ipproached from the south, fortifying, among other cities, Shoco, 
\dullam, Azekah, Gath, Mareshah, Ziph, Tekoa and Hebron 
'2 Chron. xi. 6-10). But the host of Sheshonk was irresistible. 
Mever before had the Hebrews met in battle the forces of their 
southern neighbour never before had they been confronted with 
luge masses of disciplined troops, armed and trained alike, and 
soldiers by profession. The Jewish levies were a rude and untaught 
militia, little accustomed to warfare, or even to the use of arms, after 
:~orty years of peace, during which "every man had dwelt safely under 
:he shade of his own vine and his own fig-tree " (i Kings iv. 25). 
They must have trembled before the chariots, and cavalry, and 
:rained footmen of Egypt. Accordingly, there seems to have been 
10 battle, and no regularly-organized resistance. As the host of 
Sheshonk advanced along the chief roads that led to the Jewish 
capital, the cities, fortified with so much care by Rehoboam, either 
Dpened their gates to him, or fell after brief sieges (2 Chron. xii. 4). 
Sheshonk's march was a triumphal progress, and in an incredibly 
short space of time he appeared before Jerusalem, where Rehoboam 
and the princes of Judah were tremblingly awaiting his arrival. The 
son of Solomon surrendered at discretion, and the Egyptian 
conqueror entered the Holy City, stripped the Temple of its most 
valuable treasures, includirg the shields of gold which Solomon had 
made for his bodyguard, and t plundered the royal palace (2 Chron. 
xii. 9). The city generally does not appear to have been sacked, nor 
was there any massacre. Rehoboam's submission was accepted ; he 
was maintained in his kingdom, but he had to become Sheshonk's 
"servant" (2 Chron. xii. 8), that is, he had to accept the position of 
a tributary prince, owing fealty and obedience to the Egyptian 
monarch.' 

' Sheshonk did not live many years to enjoy the glory and honour 
brought him by his Asiatic successes. He died after a reign of 



io8 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

twenty-one years, leaving his crown to his second son, Osorkon, who 
was married to the Princess Keramat, a daughter of Sheshonk's 
predecessor.' 

Forty Years or Four ? 

2 SAMUEL xv. 7 : ' And it came to pass at the end of forty years, that Absalom 
said unto the king, I pray thee, let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed 
unto the Lord, in Hebron.' 

Difficulty. Forty years cannot possibly have passed between 
Absalom's restoration to the kings favour, and the beginning of his 
rebellion. 

Explanation. There can be no doubt that the reading ' forty ' 
is incorrect. But it is the reading of almost all our hitherto collated 
Hebrew manuscripts. Those who maintain the genuineness of the 
reading in the Hebrew manuscripts explain that the forty years 
should be dated from the unction of David by Samuel. But even 
this would be incorrect, seeing that David only reigned forty years ; 
and, as Absalom was born after David began his reign in Hebron, 
he could not have been forty years old when David died. Nor can 
it be said that the rebellion of Absalom took place in David's fortieth 
year. 

The suggestion has been made that the reading should be ' forty 
days,' instead of ' forty years.' But to this two objections may be 
urged: (i) Absalom was two years in Jerusalem before he was fully 
restored to the king's favour. (See ch. xiv. 28.) (2) Forty days 
was not a sufficient time in which to alienate the affections of the 
people from David. 

The Syriac, Arabic, and Sixtine edition of the Vulgate, read ' four 
years.' This is certainly the correct reading ; and it is accepted by 
Josephus, Theodoret, Keil, Bishop Cotton, etc. Dr. Boothroyd gives 
the varied reading of ' four years,' and observes : ' The common text 
is manifestly erroneous, David reigned only forty years, and if we 
follow the text the rebellion of Absalom would occur long after David 
was dead.' The Revised Version gives, as a marginal note, ' ac- 
cording to some ancient authorities, four.' 

But it is not possible to decide from what point in Absalom's 
history these ' four years ' are to be reckoned. They may include the 
two years after his return from Geshur in which he was banished 
from the palace ; or they may date from the time of his restoration 
to the king's favour. This, on the whole, appears to be most 
probable. Four years is not too long a period in which to prepare 
the way for his rebellion by his arts and flatteries. 



ASSYRIAN LOCATION OF CAPTIVE ISRAEL. 109 

Errors in numbers should not greatly surprise us. There must 
dways have been some uncertainty in the text of books when they 
vere copied by hand. And a mistake once made would be repeated, 
hrough the very care the copyists exercised. The uncertainty ap- 
)lied in a very marked way to numbers, because, in the Hebrew, 
lumbers are expressed, not by special figures as with us, but by the 
)rdinary letters of the alphabet, and these are, sometimes, so nearly 
ike each other, that a turn of the pen, or a heedlessly added dot, or 
lash, will change one number into another. A few of the Hebrew 
etters, with their numerical values may be given, from which it will 
)lainly appear how the slips of copyists may change numbers : ^, 
Beth, 2 ; 3, Kaph, 20 ; D> Samekh, 60 ; ^, Daleth, 4 ; J-|, He, 5 ; 
-|, Cheth, 8 ; 1, Resh, 200 ; ]-|, Tau, 400 ; \ Vau, 6 ; f, Zayin, 7 ; 
, Yodth, 10 ; 3, Nun, 50. In any of these instances, a slight care- 
essness, or confusion, or slip of the pen, would alter the value of the 
etter, and the mistake might easily escape the notice of a person 
vhen correcting the copy. 



The Assyrian Location of Captive Israel. 

2 KINGS xvii. 6 : 'In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took 
Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in 
rlabor, by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.' 

Question. How many separate districts are indicated by these 
'erms, and where were they situated ? 

Answer. It is necessary first to explain, that carrying away 
copulations from conquered countries, and captured cities, was a 
)art of the policy introduced by Tiglath-pileser II., the founder of 
:he second Assyrian Empire. 'The first empire was at best a 
oosely-connected military organization ; campaigns were made into 
listant countries for the sake of plunder and tribute, but little effort 
,vas made to retain the districts that had been conquered.' ' Tiglath 
:onsolidated and organized the conquests he made ; turbulent popu- 
ations were deported from their old homes, and the empire was 
divided into satrapies or provinces. It is difficult for us to conceive 
:>f the removal of entire populations. We are oppressed as we think 
}f the hardships such removals involved. But it was a much simpler 
;hing in ancient times than we can now conceive. A living was more 
easily gained, and men's daily wants were strictly limited.' 

Sargon gives his own account of this deportation : * I besieged 
:he city of Samaria, and took it. I carried off 27,280 of the 
citizens; I chose fifty chariots for myself from the whole number 



no HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

taken ; all the other property of the people of the town I left for my 
servants to take. I appointed resident officers over them, and im- 
posed on them the same tribute as had formerly been paid. In the 
place of those taken into captivity I sent thither inhabitants of lands 
conquered by me, and imposed the tribute on them which I require 
from Assyrians.' Another part of Sargon's annals reads thus : 
'Having overcome the King of Babylon I carried away of the 
inhabitants, with their goods, and settled them in the land of the 
Chatti,' that is, in Syro Israel. On a cylinder is this inscription: 
'Sargon, who subdued the people of Thammud an Arab race of 
Arabia Petraea of Ibadid, Marsiman, and Chayapu, after slaying 
many, carried off the rest to the distant land of the House cf Omri ' 
(Samaria). In the annals of Sargon's seventh year, we read : ' I 
subdued the inhabitants of Tasid, Ibadid, Marsiman, Chayapu, the 
people of distant Arba, the dwellers in the land of Bari, which even 
the learned have not known, and which had never brought their 
tribute to the king, my father, and transplanted the survivors and 
settled them in the city of Samaria.' 

By Halah we are to understand a district on the upper course of 
the river Khabour in North-western Mesopotamia, the region ap- 
parently being known as 'Gozan.' By the 'cities of the Medes' we 
may understand the wild highland region on the east side of the 
Tigris, north of the Persian Gulf. According to this explanation, 
only two districts are referred to in the text, Halah or Gozan on the 
Khabour, and the ' cities (or mountains) of the Medes.' 

Ewald says : ' The Book of Kings specifies Halah, Habor, the 
river Gozan, and the cities of Media, as the localities to which the 
exiles were consigned. The two first of these names indicate places 
north of Nineveh, and south of the lake of Van ; the river Gozan, 
still known by the name Ozen, rises south of the lake of Ourmia, 
and forms approximately the northern boundary of Media, which is 
mentioned with it.' 

The Speaker's Commentary, noticing the connection of Halah, both 
here and in i Chron. v. 26, with Gozan and the Habor, says it shows, 
almost beyond a doubt, that it is the tract which Ptolemy calls 
Chalcitis. and which he places on the borders of Gauzanitis (Gozan). 
in the vicinity of the Chaboras, or Khabour. In this region is a re 
markable mound called Gla, which probably marks the site, anc 
represents the name, of the city Chalach, whence the district Chal 
citis was so called. The Habor is the great affluent of the Euphrates. 
the western Khabour. This stream, which is often mentioned in the 
Assyrian inscriptions under the same name, is pre-eminently ' th( 



THE ARK OF GOD WITH SAULS ARMY. in 

iver of Gozan ' (Gauzanitis), all the waters of which it collects and 
onducts to the Euphrates. Gozan is mentioned, not only in three 
>assages in combination with Halah and the Habor (comp. 
: Kings xviii. n, and i Chron. v. 26), but also in a fourth in com- 
bination with Haran (2 Kings xix. 12). Its identity with Gauzanitis 
allows almost necessarily from the fact that in this region only are 
.11 the four names combined. 

The Ark of God with Saul's Army. 

I SAMUEL xiv. 18 : ' And Saul said unto Ahijah, Bring hither the ark of God. 
r or the ark of God was there at that time with the children of Israel.' 

Difficulty. As we have no indication of the ark having left 
Kirjath-jearim until David removed it, can this reference to the ark be 
orrect ? 

Explanation. So far as the history of the ark can be traced 
)y the help of Scripture references, it was during the judgeship of 
Samuel that the men of Kirjath-jearim fetched up the ark from the 
:ountry of the Philistines (i Sam. vii. i). Then it was lodged in the 
louse of Abinadab, who resided in Gibeah, that is, in the hill. It 
vas from this house David fetched it (2 Sam. vi. 3) ; but in conse- 
quence of the death of Uzzah, who touched it against the Divine rule, 
David rested it for some months in the house of Obed-Edom, the 
Pittite. There is no trace whatever of Saul's showing any interest in 
;he ark, or making the slightest attempt at securing its restoration. 

The question to be decided concerns the correctness of the word 
irk in this verse. In favour of retaining it is the fact, that it is found 
n all extant Hebrew manuscripts, and also in the Vulgate, Syriac, 
md Chaldee Targums. And on the face of it, there is no impos- 
sibility involved in the idea that Saul had the ark brought for the 
>ccasion from Kirjath-jearim. 

But the arguments against the correctness of the term are over- 
whelming. There can be no doubt that ephod, not ark, is the 
proper term. The Septuagint Version reads : ' And Saul said to 
\hijah, Bring hither the ephod ; for he bore the ephod in those days 
Defore the children of Israel.' Josephus reports the incident in this 
vay : ' He bid the priest take the garments of his priesthood, and 
prophesy,' etc. 

We should carefully notice, that Saul did not want the presence of 
:he ark in the same sense, and for the same purpose, as the Israelites 
iid, in the time of Eli, when they sent for it into the battlefield. 
Saul wanted it as a means of inquiring of God as to the way in which 



ii2 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

he should act in a pressing emergency. 'Should he seeing the 
panic that was evidently increasing in the Philistine camp, and 
knowing nothing of the cause, only that his son and the armour- 
bearer were missing should he risk his little force, and, leaving his 
strong position, attack that great host of apparently panic stricken 
enemies ?' 

But if Saul meant to inquire of God, the ark was not the proper 
thing to send for. There is no trace of the ark ever being used as 
the medium of inquiries. The proper thing was to send for the 
high priest, requesting him to put on the ephod, with the Urim and 
Thummim in it ; and, in some mysterious way which has not been 
revealed to us, the Divine answer was given, and the Divine will was 
revealed, through some change in that Urim and Thummim. 

It has also been pointed out, that the expression * Bring hither ' 
is never applied to the ark, and it could not properly be applied to 
that most sacred symbol of the Divine presence. No king could 
possibly have authority to order about, at his own will, the ark of 
God. He might command the attendance of the high priest, in 
order to make inquiries, through him, concerning the Divine will. 
This expression, * Bring hither,' is used in connection with the ephod, 
(See i Sam. xxiii. 9.) ' David said to Abiathar the priest, Bring 
hither the ephod,' and, through it, David made definite inquiry of 
God. Another precisely similar instance will be found in i Sam. 
xxx. 7. 

It only need be added, that Saul required an immediate decision, 
and this he could get from the priest, who was always close at hand ; 
but this he could not have obtained if the ark had to be fetched 
from Kirjath-jearim. Stanley is right in saying that the reading of 
ark for ephod is an * obvious mistake.' 

Hilkiah J s Book of the Law. 

2 KINGS xxii. 8 : 'And Hilkiah, the high priest, said unto Shaphan the scribe, 
I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord.' 

Question. Can the work discovered by Hilkiah be identified with 
any degree of certainty ? 

Answer. There can be no reasonable doubt that the Books of 
Moses are referred to ; but there is dispute as to whether we are to 
understand the Five Books comprising the Pentateuch ; portions 
containing only the judgments of the law ; or only the summary, or 
the primary portions of the summary, now known as the Book of 
Deuteronomy. ( The discussion of the origin and contents of Deu- 



HILKIAH' S BOOK OF THE LAW. 113 

teronomy is not required for the elucidation of this particular ques- 
tion, but will be found treated elsewhere.) 

Dr. C. Geikie gives an explanatory account of the incident. 
' Eighteen years had passed since Josiah's accession, though he was 
still only a young man of twenty-six. The whole country had been 
cleared of its high places, and other heathen or superstitious dis- 
figurements, and the Temple was rapidly being repaired and restored 
to its ancient uses, under a commission, consisting of Hilkiah, the 
high priest ; Shaphan, the king's secretary, or minister of finance ; 
Maaseiah, the Sar, or governor of Jerusalem, and Joah, the king's 
mazkir, or keeper of the State archives. While engaged in their 
duties, Hilkiah came upon a manuscript roll, which proved to be a 
copy of " The Book of the Torah, or Law, of Jehovah, by the hand 
of Moses " (Heb. of 2 Chron. xxxiv. 14 ; comp. 2 Kings xxii. 8). In 
what part of the Temple it was found is not stated, but the discovery 
took place when the commissioners were removing the money 
gathered to repair the Temple, from the chests in which it had been 
stored, which may mark either when the book was found, or the 
place where it was discovered. In the days of Christ it was believed 
that the king had sent Hilkiah to get what money remained, after 
the restoration of the Temple, to melt into cups, dishes, etc., for the 
sacred ministrations, and that while he was bringing it out, he lighted 
upon " the Holy Books of Moses." The Rabbinical tradition is, that 
14 the Book " was found beneath a heap of stones, under which it had 
been hidden when they burned the other copies of the Law. It may 
be, however, that it had lain hid in the ark itself, which Manasseh 
had thrown aside into some of the many cells, or chambers, round 
the Temple, where it might easily have remained unnoticed till the 
searching eagerness of the commission discovered it. Hitherto the 
king had acted only from the traditional knowledge of the old reli- 
gion, preserved by the godly through the dark times of Manasseh 
and Amon ; but the written Law was now in his hands. That its 
earlier existence was well known is shown by its instant recognition 
as " The Book of the Law." Nor is it possible that Josiah himself, 
and those around him, should have received it as the ancient sacred 
book of the nation, had no such book formerly existed.' 

That there was a copy of the Law specially preserved beside the 
ark, within the Holy of Holies, is evident from the passage, Deut. 
xxxi. 25, 26 : ' Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of 
the covenant of the Lord, saying, Take this book of the law, and put 
it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that 
it may be there for a witness against thee.' But the actual contents 

8 



ii4 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES, 

of this ' Book of the Law ' are not given, and we cannot tell whether 
it included the historical portions, or was strictly limited to the 
original legislative sections. 

Whatever this Temple-copy of the Law contained, the importance 
attached by all parties to the discovery of Hilkiah certainly suggests 
that it was this particular copy, specially sacred because of its asso- 
ciations, which was now recovered. 

Dr. Lumby gives the preceding historical associations, which enable 
us to appreciate the significance of the discovery. ' Josiah had suc- 
ceeded his father at the age of eight, and in the previous fifty-seven 
years the kingdom hid twice over been deluged with all the abomina- 
tions of idolatry. The greater proportion, therefore, of the inhabitants 
of Jerusalem would have had little chance of knowing the Law and 
its requirements. The Temple had been neglected, perhaps closed, 
during a large part of these years. If we may judge of what would 
be needed now by what had been found necessary in Hezekiah's 
time (2 Chron. xxix. 5-7), the holy place would have become foul with 
neglect, the doors shut up, the lamps unlit, no incense within, no 
sacrifice without, the building. As for the Book of the Law, whatever 
might have been the contents of it at this time, rolls containing it 
would certainly not be numerous. In the possession of the priests 
they might be expected to be found, but only here and there. The 
copy made (according to the Law) for the use of the king would 
most certainly have perished. We must lay aside, in thinking of this 
time, all our modern conceptions about books and about a number 
of copies. The priests, in the matter of services and sacrifices in the 
Temple, taught the people by word of mouth what was proper in 
every part of the ceremonial, and much of the priestly training was 
traditional, passed on from one generation of priests to another. 
That an authoritative copy of the law, whatever it may have com- 
prised, would be supplied for preservation in the Temple we certainly 
might expect ; but after nearly sixty years of neglect of the Temple 
and its services, we can feel little surprised that neither Hilkiah nor . 
his fellows were aware of its existence, and that Josiah knew con- 
cerning it only what had been taught him by the priests. The half- 
century previous to Josiah's accession had been a period of utter 
darkness, both for people, priests, and king. . . . Neither Hilkiah 
nor Shaphan are surprised at what has been found. The high priest 
describes it to Shaphan by a form of words which must have had a 
definite meaning before he used them. That is, there was known 
among the priests, and to some degree, no doubt, among the people, 
a collection of precepts which were called by the name of " the Book 



HILKIAH'S BOOK OF THE LA W. 



IJ 5 



of the Law." Therefore the " finding " mentioned in this verse was 
not a discovery of something unknown before, but the rescuing of the 
Temple-copy of the Law from the hiding-place in which it had long 
lain (perhaps in one of the chambers round about the Temple). 
Hilkiah knows what it is which he has come upon : the scribe with 
professional instinct begins to peruse it. Neither of them shows any 
ignorance or any surprise at the sight or perusal.' 

The discussion of the probable contents of the book is reviewed 
and summarized by Canon Cheyne, in his recent work on 'Jeremiah.' 
Referring to Shaphan, the scribe, he says : f At present we must 
accompany him to his royal master, and watch the effect of the 
tidings which he bears from the Temple, where a discovery has just 
been made by Hilkiah the priest. It is a book which has been found 
containing directions on religious and moral points which cut at the 
root of many popular customs and practices. The name which 
Hilkiah gives to it is, "The Book of Torah " (i.e., of Divine direc- 
tion or instruction) ; the narrator himself calls it " The Covenant 
Book" (2 Kings xxiii. 2). The chronicler, however, gives it a fuller 
title, "The Book of Jehovah's Torah given by Moses" (2 Chron. 
xxxiv. 14), which probably expresses the meaning of the earlier 
narrator. For certainly it was as a Mosaic production that the 
" Book of Torah " effected such a rapid success, though not (even 
according to the compiler of Kings) the whole of what is now called 
the Pentateuch. There can be no longer any doubt that the book 
found in the Temple was substantially the same as our Book of Deu- 
teronomy. Does the narrative in Kings describe the book as the 
Book of Torah, and its stipulations collectively as " the Covenant " ? 
(2 Kings xxii. 8 ; xxiii. 3). These are also phrases of the expanded 
Book of Deuteronomy (Deut. xxix. i, 21 ; xxx. 10; xxxi. 26, etc.). 
Do the king and the people pledge themselves "to walk after 
Jehovah, and to keep His commandments and His precepts and His 
statutes with all their heart, and with all their soul, performing the 
words of this covenant that are written in this book "? (2 Kings xxiii. 3). 
The same phrases occur over and over again in Deuteronomy. (See 
Deut. iv. 13; vi. 5; viii. 6, n; x. 12, 13; xxix. 9.) Does Josiah 
devote himself to the suppression of the local sanctuaries and the 
centralization of worship ? This is also one of the principal aims of 
the Book of Deuteronomy.' 

Canon Cheyne quotes together the following passages, Deut. vi. 4, 5 ; 
xii. 2-6; xvi. 21, 22; xviii. 9-15 ; xxviii. 15-21, and says of them : 
' Such is the only setting in which a Biblical scholar is permitted to 
place the kernel at least of Deuteronomy (if the somewhat misleading 

82 



n6 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

name is still to be used), but not more than this, for the fifth of the 
so-called " Books of Moses " has most certainly grown like the other 
four. It is too soon to inquire what this " kernel " was ; too soon to 
set forth the probable origin of this earliest part of the book.' 

In the face of searching modern criticism we may still keep the 
older explanation of Hilkiah's discovery. ' The thorough search 
which was made in the Temple, for the removal of every relic of 
idolatry or superstition, which former kings had introduced, brought 
to light the autograph copy of the Law written by Moses ; and, in 
opening it, the eye fell upon the passage, Deut. xxviii. 15-68, de- 
claring the doom of the nation if it fell into idolatry.' (Kitto.) 

The Speaker's Commentary meets the objection that a fraud was 
arranged to serve the purposes of the priesthood, and after showing 
how certainly a fraud would have been detected, adds : ' On the 
whole, it may be said that fraud or mistake might as easily have 
imposed a new " Bible " on the Christian world in the sixteenth 
century, as a new "law" on the Jews in the reign of Josiah.' 

Kirjath-Sepher, the Book Town. 

JOSHUA xv. 16 : 'And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjath-sepher, and taketh it, 
to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife.' 

Question. As this name means ' Book Town,' may ive infer that 
the Canaanites were sufficiently civilized to have public libraries ? 

Answer. Up to recent times, it could only be conjectured 
from this name that this town was an ancient seat of learning. Dr. 
Wright and Professor Sayce have now brought to light information of 
an extremely interesting character, which fully supports what was 
previously only a conjecture. Writing of the times of Rameses II., 
Sayce says : ' It is clear that already at this period the Hittites were a 
literary people. The Egyptian records make mention of a certain 
Khilip-sira, whose name is compounded with that of Khilip or Aleppo, 
and describe him as " a writer of books of the vile Kheta." Like the 
Egyptian Pharaoh, the Hittite monarch was accompanied to battle 
by his scribes. If Kirjath-sepher, or " Book Town," in the neigh- 
bourhood of Hebron, was of Hittite origin, the Hittites would have 
possessed libraries like the Assyrians, which may yet be dug up. 
Kirjath-sepher was also called "Debir," the "Sanctuary," and we 
may, therefore, conclude that the library was stored in its chief temple, 
as were the libraries of Babylonia. There was another Debir or 
Dapur further north, in the vicinity of Kadesh on the Orontes, which 
is mentioned in the Egyptian inscriptions ; and since this was in the 



KIRJATH-SEPHER, THE BOOK TOWN. 117 

land of the Amorites, while Kirjath-sepher is also described as an 
Amorite town, it is possible that here, too, the relics of an ancient 
library may yet be found. We must not forget that in the days of 
Deborah, " out of Zebulon," northward of Megiddo, came " they that 
handle the pen of the writer." ' (Judg. v. 14.) 

After giving an historical description of what has become known in 
regard to the conquest of Amenophis III., as shown by the archives 
of his palace, Professor Sayce says, of the tablets and inscriptions : 
* From them we learn that, in the fifteenth century before our era a 
century before the Exodus active literary intercourse was going on 
throughout the civilized world of Western Asia, between Babylon and 
Egypt and the smaller states of Palestine, of Syria, of Mesopotamia, 
and even of Eastern Kappadokia. And this intercourse was carried 
on by means of the Babylonian language, and the complicated Baby- 
lonian script. This implies that all over the civilized East there were 
libraries, and schools where the Babylonian language and literature 
were taught and learned. Babylonian appeared to have been as much 
the language of diplomacy and cultivated society as French has become 
in modern times, with the difference that, whereas it does not take 
long to learn French, the cuneiform syllabary required years of hard 
labour and attention before it could be acquired. We can now 
understand the meaning of the name of the Canaanitish city which 
stood near Hebron, and which seems to have been one of the most 
important of the towns of Southern Palestine. Kirjath-sepher, or 
" Book Town," must have been the seat of a famous library, consist- 
ing mainly, if not altogether, as the Tel el-Amarna tablets inform us, 
of clay tablets inscribed with cuneiform characters. The literary 
influence of Babylonia in the age before the Israelitish conquest of 
Palestine explains the occurrence of the names of Babylonian deities 
among the inhabitants of the West. Moses died on the summit of 
Mount Nebo, which received its name from the Babylonian god of 
literature, to whom the great temple of Borsippa was dedicated ; and 
Sinai itself, the mountain of " Sin," testifies to a worship of the Baby- 
lonian Moon-god, Sin, amid the solitudes of the desert. Moloch, or 
Malik, was a Babylonian divinity like Rimmon, the Air-god, after whom 
more than one locality in Palestine was named ; and Anat, the wife 
of Anu, the Sky-god, gave her name to the Palestinian Anah, as well 
as to Anathoth, the city of the " Anat-goddesses." ' In a careful 
reading of the tablets, Professor Sayce came upon many ancient 
names and incidents known up to the present only from their appear- 
ance in the Bible. 

Some account of Babylonian and Assyrian libraries may help us to 



n8 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

realize the provision made in the temple of this Canaanitish town, 
Kirjath-sepher. ' A literary people ' like the Babylonians needed 
libraries, and libraries were accordingly established at a very early 
period in all the great cities of the country, and plentifully stocked 
with books in papyrus and clay. In imitation of these Babylonian 
libraries, libraries were also founded in Assyria by the Assyrian 
kings. There was a library at Assur, and another at Calah, which 
seems to have been as old as the city itself. But the chief library of 
Assyria, that, in fact, from which most of the Assyrian literature we 
possess has come, was the great library of Nineveh (Kouyunjik). 
This owed its magnitude and reputation to Assur-bani-pal, who filled 
it with copies of the plundered books of Babylonia. A whole army 
of scribes was employed in it, busily engaged in writing and editing 
old texts. Assur-bani-pal is never weary of telling us, in the colophon 
at the end of the last tablet of a series which made up a single work, 
that ' Nebo and Tasmit had given him broad ears and enlightened 
his eyes so as to see the engraved characters of the written tablets, 
whereof none of the kings that had gone before had seen this text, the 
wisdom of Nebo, all the literature of the library that exists,' so that 
he had ' written, engraved, and explained it on tablets, and placed it 
within his palace for the inspection of readers.' All the branches of 
knowledge known at the time were treated of in Assyrian literature, 
though naturally history, legend, and poetry occupied a prominent 
place in it. But even such subjects as the despatches of generals in 
the field, or the copies of royal correspondence found a place in the 
public library. The chronology of Assyria, and, therewith, of the 
Old Testament also, has been restored by means of the lists of 
successive ' eponyms,' or officers after whom the years were named, 
while a recent discovery has brought to light a table of Semitic 
Babylonian kings, arranged in dynasties, wnich traces them back to 
B.C. 2330. 

Jeroboam's Two Calves. 

I KINGS xii. 28, 29 : * Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves 
of gold, and he said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem ; 
behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And 
he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan.' 

Difficulty. There was no precedent for making two calves. 
Whence did Jeroboam get the idea, and what object did he propose to 
himself! 

Explanation. Jeroboam had become familiar, while exiled in 
Egypt, with the worship of the sacred ox Apis, and the calf Mnevis, 



JEROBOAMS TWO CALVES. 119 

and all over Western Asia, including the heathen parts of Palestine, 
the ox was the favourite symbol of Baal. The young bull was the 
symbol of creative power. 

It does not appear that any religious object was in view in making 
two calves. If visible representatives of God are once admitted, the 
multiplication of them is only a matter of convenience. Jeroboam 
was wholly swayed by considerations affecting the establishment of 
his new kingdom, and he was not checked by any religious con- 
siderations. He would have made ten gods as readily as two, if he 
had thought that ten would serve his state purposes. The one set up 
at Dan was, perhaps, to be the great religious centre, but, as Bethel 
was a recognised holy place, the calf there seems to have received the 
greatest attention, though Jeroboam may only have meant it to keep 
the southern section of his people from going to Jerusalem to 
worship. And with the calf at Bethel there came to be connected a 
new temple, ' known for centuries as the royal and national sanctuary, 
a rival of the great Temple of Jerusalem, with a distinct priesthood, 
ritual, and festivals, and all the pomp of the religious centre of the 
kingdom.' 

There was no actual intention to cast off Jehovah these calves 
were but to represent Him but the fact that there were two tended 
to destroy the primary conception of the Divine Unity, as the 
material figure tended to destroy the other primary conception of the 
Divine Spirituality. 

Canon Rawlinson suggests that these ' calves of gold ' were repre- 
sentations of the cherubic form, imitations, more or less close, of the 
two cherubim which guarded the ark of the covenant in the Holy of 
Holies. As, however, they were unauthorized copies, set up in 
places which God had not chosen, and without any Divine sanction, 
the sacred writers call them ' calves.' We may gather from this that 
they were not mere human figures with wings, but had, at any rate, 
the head of a calf or ox. Jeroboam, in setting them up, was 
probably not so much influenced by anything that he had seen in 
Egypt, as ( i ) by a conviction that the Israelites could not be brought 
to attach themselves to any worship which did not present them with 
sensible objects to venerate ; (2) by the circumstance that he did not 
possess any of the old objects of reverence which had been concen- 
trated at Jerusalem ; and (3) by the fact that he could plead for his 
* calves ' the authority of so great a name as Aaron. 



120 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

The Resting-Place of Noah's Ark. 

GENESIS viii. 4 : ' And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth 
day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.' 

Difficulty. Mount Ararat is almost inaccessible. It is inconceiv- 
able that the women and animals climbed down from its summit. 

Explanation. The expression 'mountains of Ararat' suggests 
some part of the range known by that name, and not necessarily the 
highest part. In its love for the extraordinary, tradition has fixed the 
site as one of the two highest peaks, the Aghri-dagh, and the Kara- 
dagh, which are more than 10,000 feet above the level of the sea. 
We may more wisely assume that it rested on one of the lower ridges, 
and that when the mists cleared, Noah found himself surrounded by 
an amphitheatre of mountains. 

' The Targum of Onkelos and the Syriac translate " on the moun- 
tains of Carduchia." This range, which separates Armenia from 
Kurdistan, is regarded by many authorities as the hills really meant, 
because, as they are nearer the place whence the ark started, the 
difficulty regarding the course taken by it is not so insuperable.' 

'Ararat is the name of a territory (2 Kings xix. 37) which is 
mentioned (Jer. li. 27) as a kingdom near to Mirmi (Armenia) 
probably the middle province of the Armenian territory, which 
Moses of Chorene calls Arairad, Araratia. The mountains of Ararat 
are, doubtless, the mountain-group which rises from the plain of the 
Araxes in two high peaks, the Great Ararat, 16,254 feet, and the 
Lesser, about 12,000 feet above the level of the sea. This landing- 
place of the ark is of the highest significance for the development of 
humanity, as it is to be renewed after the flood. Armenia, the 
fountain-land of the Paradise rivers, a " cool, airy, well-watered, 
insular mountain-tract," as it has been called, lies in the middle of 
the old continent. And so, in a special manner, does the mountain 
of Ararat lie nearly in the middle, not only of the Great African- 
Asiatic desert-tract, but also of the inland, or Mediterranean waters, 
extending from Gibraltar to the Sea of Baikal at the same time 
occupying the middle point in the longest line of extension of the 
Caucasian race, and of the Indo-Germanic lines of language and 
mythology ; whilst it is also the middle point of the greatest reach of 
land in the old world as measured from the Cape of Good Hope to 
Behring's Straits in fact, the most peculiar point on the globe, from 
whose heights the lines and tribes of people, as they went forth from 
the sons of Noah, might spread themselves to all the regions of the 
earth. 



CYRUS NO MONOTHEIST. 121 

* The Koran has wrongly placed the landing-place of Noah on the 
\\\\\Judhi, in the Kurd mountain tract, but this VGt&Judhi may only 
be an epithet, meaning the Hill of Mercy. The Samaritan Version 
locates it on the mountains of Ceylon ; the Sybilline books in 
Phrygia, in the native district of Marsyas. The Hindoo story of the 
Flood names the Himalaya, the Greek Parnassus, as the landing- 
place of the delivered ancestor.' (Lange.} 

It is evident that no exact information can be obtained, and that 
we are left to form reasonable conjectures. 

Cyrus no Monotheist. 

EZRA i. 1 : ' Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the 
Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of 
Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, 
and put it also in writing.' 

Question. What corrections of previous notions concerning Cyrus 
have come to us through recently-discovered documents ? 

Answer. It may be well to notice first the commonly-received 
notions concerning Cyrus, that we may value, by comparison, the 
recent information that has been obtained. Dean Stanley calls this 
hero ' Cyrus, or Koresh, or Khosroo, the King of the Persians. The 
day of Persian glory which he ushered in, the empire which he 
founded, for that brief time, embraced all that there was of civilization 
from the Himalayas to the ^Egean Sea. ... Of all the great nations 
of Central Asia, Persia alone is of the same stock as Greece and 
Rome and Germany. . . . Cyrus belongs to the only nation in the 
then state of the world which, in any sense at all approaching the 
Israelite, acknowledged the unity of the Godhead. The religion of 
the Persians was, of all the Gentile forms of faith, the most simple 
and the most spiritual. Their abhorrence of idols was pushed almost 
to fanaticism. " They have no images of the gods, no temples, no 
altars, and consider the use of them a sign of folly." This was 
Herodotus's account of the Persians of his own day, and it is fully 
borne out by what we know of their religion and of their history.' 

Professor Sayce tell us that ' the history of the downfall of the 
great Babylonian Empire, and of the causes, humanly speaking, 
which brought about the restoration of the Jews, has recently been 
revealed to us by the progress of Assyrian discovery. We now 
possess the account, given by Cyrus himself, of the overthrow of 
Nabonidos, the Babylonian king, and of the conqueror's permission 
to the captives in Babylonia to return to their homes. The account 
is contained in two documents, written, like most other Assyrian and 



122 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

Babylonian records, upon clay, and lately brought from Babylonia to 
England by Mr. Rassam. One of these documents is a tablet which 
chronicles the events of each year in the reign of Nabonidos, the last 
Babylonian monarch, and continues the history into the first year of 
Cyrus, as King of Babylon. The other is a cylinder, on which 
Cyrus glorifies himself and his son Kambyses, and professes his 
adherence to the worship of Bel Merodach, the patron god of 
Babylon.' 

In these inscriptions Cyrus does not call himself and his ancestors 
kings of Persia, but of Elam. The word used is Anzan, or Ansan, 
which an old Babylonian geographical tablet explains as the native 
name of the country which the Assyrians and Hebrews called Elam. 
This statement is verified by early inscriptions found at Susa and 
other places in the neighbourhood, and belonging to the ancient 
monarchs of Elam, who contended on equal terms with Babylonia 
and Assyria until they were at last conquered by the Assyrian king, 
Assur-bani-pal, and their country made an Assyrian province. In 
these inscriptions they take the imperial title of ' King of Anzan.' 

The annalistic tablet lets us see when Cyrus first became King of 
Persia. In the sixth year of Nabonidos (B.C. 549) Cyrus is still King 
of Elam ; in the ninth year he has become King of Persia. Between 
these two years, therefore, he must have gained possession of Persia, 
either by conquest, or in some peaceable way. When he overthrew 
Astyages, his rule did not as yet extend so far. At the same time 
Cyrus must have been of Persian descent, since he traces his ancestry 
back to Teispes, whom Darius, the son of Hystaspes, in his great 
inscription on the sacred rock of Behistun, claims as his own fore- 
father. 

That Cyrus was an Elamite, however, is not the only startling 
revelation which the newly- discovered inscriptions have made to us. 
We learn from them that he was a polytheist who worshipped Bel 
Merodach and Nebo, and paid public homage to the deities of 
Babylon. We have learnt a similar fact in regard to his son 
Kambyses from the Egyptian monuments. These have shown us 
that the account of the murder of the sacred bull Apis by Kambyses, 
given by Herodotus, is a fiction ; a tablet accompanying the huge 
granite sarcophagus of the very bull he was supposed to have 
wounded has been found with the image of Kambyses sculptured 
upon it, kneeling before the Egyptian god. The belief that Cyrus 
was a monotheist grew out of the belief that he was a Persian, and, 
like other Persians, a follower of the Zoroastrian faith ; there is 
nothing in Scripture to warrant it. Cyrus was God's shepherd only 



CYRUS NO MONOTHEIST. 123 

ecause he was His chosen instrument in bringing about the restora- 
on of Israel ; it is expressly said of him, ' 1 girded thee, though 
lou hast not known Me ' (Isaiah xlv. 5). 

Experience had taught Cyrus the danger of allowing a disaffected 
aople to live in the country of their conquerors. He therefore re- 
used the old policy of the Assyrian and Babylonian kings, which 
insisted in transporting the larger portion of a conquered population 
) another country, and sought instead to win their gratitude and 
Section by allowing them to return to their native lands. He saw, 
loreover, that the Jews, if restored from exile, would not only pro- 
:ct the south-west corner of his empire from the Egyptians, but 
ould form a base for his intended invasion of Egypt itself. The 
armission, therefore, which he granted to the Jewish exiles to return 
*ain to Palestine, and there rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, doubtless 
jemed to him a master-stroke of policy ; he little knew that he was 
ut an instrument in the hand of God, who was using him and his 
orldly counsels to fulfil the promises that had been made years 
efore to the chosen people. 

The return from the captivity took place in the first year of the 
ngn of Cyrus in Babylonia, that is, in 538 B.C. The journey of so 
.rge a caravan from Babylonia to Palestine must have occupied a 
Dnsiderable time. 

Solomon's Forced Labourers. 

I KINGS ix. 20-22 : 'As for all the people that were left of the Amorites, the 
ittiies, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebu-ites, which were not of the 
lildren of Israel ; their children that were left after them in the land, whom the 
lildren of Israel were not able utterly to destroy, of them did Solomon raise 
levy of bondservants, unto this day. But of the children of Israel did Solomon 
ake no bondservants : but they were the men of war, and his servants, and his 
"inces, and his captains, and the rulers of his chariots and of his horsemen.' 

Difficulty. The accounts of the levy as given in Kings and in 
Chronicles differ in some important particulars. If the demand for 
>rced labour did not apply to the Israelites, how could it be a cause of 
wplaint in the time of Rehoboam ? 

Explanation. It will be helpful to place the passages referring 
> Solomon's ' tribute of men ' side by side ; and they may be given 
om the Revised Version, so as to secure the utmost precision 
:tainable. They will be found to harmonize themselves, i Kings v. 
3-16 : * And King Solomon raised a levy out of all Israel ; and the 
vy was thirty thousand men. And he sent them to Lebanon, ten 
lousand a month by courses : a month they were in Lebanon, and 
vo months at home : and Adoniram was over the levy. And Solomon 



i2 4 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

had threescore and ten thousand that bare burdens, and fourscore 
thousand that were hewers in the mountains ; besides Solomon's 
chief officers that were over the work, three thousand and three 
hundred, which bare rule over the people 'that wrought in the work.' 

Here are mentioned 30,000 men specially working in Lebanon at 
tree-felling and cutting. There is no statement made as to their 
being Israelites or strangers, but the careful arrangement to secure 
that they were not overworked, suggests that they were Israelites. 
And Samuel had duly warned the people that if they had a king, he 
would exact forced labour (i Sam. viii. 16). Besides this levy, the 
narrator informs us that Solomon had 70,000 labourers, and 80,000 
quarrymen : and these may have been drawn from the Canaanite 
population. Over these it seems to have been necessary to appoint 
3,300 overseers, and these were taken from the native Israelites. It 
is only said that 'Adoniram was over the levy.' As the building of 
the Temple was a work of love, the skilled native workmen would 
be independent of overseers, and would be likely to organize them- 
selves under their own foremen. We may not be correct in making 
this distinction between the levy of Israelites for the Lebanon work, 
and the great mass of labourers and stone-cutters for the quarries, 
but it seems to be the most reasonable rendering of the passage, and 
it paves the way for understanding the other passages which refer to 
the matter. 

i Kings ix. 20, 21, is given above; and from the context it will be 
seen that reference is here made to Solomon's permanent arrange- 
ments for building his palaces and cities, and not to his special arrange- 
ments for building the Temple. For that work a levy of Israelites 
was reasonably made ; but for ordinary state enterprises Solomon did 
not venture to exact forced labour from his own people. The work 
for which the levy from the Canaanite populations was raised, is 
clearly indicated in ch. ix. 17-19 : 'And Solomon built Gezer, and 
Bethhoron the nether, and Baalath, and Tadmor (Tamar, R.V.) in 
the wilderness, in the land, and all the store cities that Solomon had, 
and the cities for his chariots, and the cities for his horsemen, and 
that which Solomon desired to build for his pleasure in Jerusalem, 
and in Lebanon, and in all the land of his dominion.' 

The descendants of the Canaanite population had become so mixed 
up with the Israelites in all the cities that no further effort could be 
made to dislodge them, but they never had the citizen-rights of native 
Israelites, and were liable to calls for forced labour, and were always 
distinguished from the Israelites in the service they must render and the 
tribute they must bear. We can quite understand that Solomon could 



SOLOMON'S FORCED LABOURERS. 125 

iemand forced labour even from his own people on emergencies, 
but the Canaanite population seem to have been under a permanent 
:laim ; their levy is said to have been continuous ' unto this day.' 

The other passage dealing with this matter is in 2 Chron. ii. 17, 18 : 
And Solomon numbered all the strangers that were in the land of 
Csrael, after the numbering wherewith David his father had numbered 
;hem and they were found an hundred and fifty thousand and three 
-housand and six hundred. And he set threescore and ten thousand 
:>f them to bear burdens, and fourscore thousand that were hewers 
n the mountains, and three thousand and six hundred overseers to 
>et the people awork.' 

Comparing this passage with that in i Kings v. 13-16, it will be 
seen that the writer of the ' Chronicles ' makes no reference to the 
30,000 who were sent in batches of 10,000 to Lebanon, and who 
were probably skilled Israelite workmen ; but confines himself to the 
150,000 labourers and stone-cutters, who served in the quarries of the 
mountains. The only difference between the two passages is found 
in the number of the overseers, which is given in Kings as 3,300, 
ind in Chronicles as 3,600. But in the Hebrew writing three 
(shalosh) and six (shesh) might easily be confused. 

The Speaker's Commentary supports the view taken of the distinc- 
tion between the 30,000 and the 150,000 in the Book of Kings. Its 
note on i Kings v. 13 is as follows : 'This was, apparently, the first 
:ime that the Israelites had been called upon to perform forced labour. 
It had been prophesied, when they desired a king, that, if they 
insisted on having one, he would " take their menservants, and their 
maidservants, and their goodliest young men, and put them to his 
work " and David had bound to forced service the " strangers that 
were in the land of Israel " (i Chron. xxii. 2), but hitherto the 
Israelites had escaped. Solomon now, in connection with his pro- 
posed work of building the Temple, with the honour of God as an 
excuse, laid this burthen upon them. Out of the 1,300,000 able- 
bodied Israelites (2 Sam. xxiv. 9), a band of 30,000 one in forty- 
rbur was raised, of whom one-third was constantly at work in 
Lebanon, while two-thirds remained at home, and pursued their 
asual occupations. The working 10,000 were relieved every month, 
md thus each man laboured for one month in Lebanon, then spent 
:wo months at home, then in the fourth month returned to his forced 
:oil, in the fifth month found himself relieved, and so on year after 
/ear. This, though a very light form of task-work, was felt as a great 
Dppression, and was the chief cause of the revolt of the ten tribes 
it Solomon's death.' (i Kings xii. 4.) 



126 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

The chief grievance represented to Rehoboam was the forced 
labour to which the Israelites had been subjected. * Forced labour 
has been among the causes leading to insurrection in many ages and 
countries. It alienated the people of Rome from the last Tarquin ; 
it helped to bring about the French Revolution, and it was for many 
years one of the principal grievances of the Russian serfs.' 

Dr. C. Geikie explains the different levies in another way, which, 
however, makes it more difficult to harmonize the several passages. 
He says : ' Another grievance that sapped the loyalty of the people 
was the systematic enforcement of compulsory or virtually slave 
labour, to carry out the various schemes of the king. The Temple : 
the vast series of royal buildings at Jerusalem ; the fortifications of 
that city ; the erection of strongholds at different points ; the con- 
struction of the great royal roads ; the creation of the royal gardens 
and parks ; the building of the huge aqueducts and reservoirs at the 
capital, and much else, had required an amount of labour which 
could not be obtained by ordinary means. Even Solomon's revenues 
would not, indeed, have met the cost of it, had they been available. 
In imitation of the Pharaohs, therefore, he established and enforced 
a system of forced, unpaid labour, on the community at large. At 
first, however, this was demanded only from the remnants of the 
Canaanites. They had. indeed, been subjected to this serfdom in 
the later years of David's reign, but the yoke was now laid on then- 
much more heavily. Thirty thousand men were drafted to toil in the 
forests of Lebanon and in the quarries at Jerusalem, felling trees 
and hewing vast stones ; 10,000 serving a month in rotation, with ar 
interval of two months at home, to attend to their own affairs ; a ta> 
of four months' labour a year from each of the 30,000. But ever 
this army of unwilling labourers was insufficient, as the buildings anc 
other undertakings of the king increased. A levy was therefore 
raised from " all Israel," not from the Canaanites only, amounting t( 
70,000 men to carry loads, and 80,000 to hew down and squan 
timber in Lebanon, and to quarry and prepare building stones : 3,3oc 
overseers watching that the tasks were performed. How great th< 
suffering imposed by these corvees must have been, is easy to imagine 
Continued through years, involving exposure for months together 01 
the mountains, or toil in the darkness of quarries worked like mines 
where the smoke of their torches, used in the thick darkness, ma; 
still be seen they must have been fatal to many. But besides al 
this, there was the exhausting labour of moving huge trees to th< 
distant sea-shore ; and on their reaching Joppa, dragging them up th< 
steep mountain passes to Jerusalem ; or transporting immense block 



KINGS ASSOCIATED WITH THE CAPTIVITY. 127 

of stone on rough sledges, from the quarries to the Temple site on 
Mount Moriah. Forced labour in the East has, in all ages, been as 
fatal as war, and it was probably as destructive in Solomon's time.' 

As indicating that even the Israelites were subject to forced labour, 
Geikie recalls the fact that, in i Kings xi. 28, Jeroboam, the master 
of the public works, is said to have been ' over all the charge of the 
house of Joseph.' 

The Kings Associated with the Captivity. 

2 KINGS xvii. 3 : 'Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria ; and 
Hoshea became his servant, and gave him presents.' 

2 KINGS xvii. 5 : ' Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, 
and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years.' 

Question. Can it be the same King of Assyria that is mentioned 
in these two verses ? 

Answer. The fact that the name is not given in the second 
passage suggests that another king may be referred to, and another 
invasion, or another phase of the invasion, is dealt with. The history, 
as corrected by recent discoveries, shows that Tiglath-Pileser died in 
B.C. 727, and was succeeded by Shalmaneser IV., the king referred 
to above in verse 3. The refusal of Hoshea to continue the yearly 
tribute of ten talents of gold, and a thousand of silver, which Hoshea 
had promised to Tiglath-Pileser, brought Shalmaneser into the West. 
He unsuccessfully besieged Tyre, but carried Hoshea away captive, 
and commenced a blockade of Samaria, which lasted for three years. 
During this blockade Shalmaneser died, and the crown was seized by 
one of the Assyrian generals. He assumed the name of Sargon, in 
memory of the famous Babylonian monarch who had reigned so 
many centuries before. The later phases, therefore, of the taking of 
Samaria, and the deportation of the inhabitants, belong to Sargon 
rather than to Shalmaneser, though Sargon did but carry out the 
scheme which Shalmaneser had devised and commenced. The 
association of the two kings will explain the different form in which 
the reference in verse 5 is set. 

The second invasion of Shalmaneser fell in the year B.C. 723, and 
the time given for the siege of Samaria is three years according to 
the Hebrew method of reckoning, but only two years according to 
our method. 

The Speaker's Commentary says: 'The King of Assyria who took 
Samaria appears by the Assyrian inscriptions not to have been 
Shalmaneser, but Sargon. At least this monarch claims to have 
captured the city in the first year of his reign, which was B.C. 721 



128 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

according to the Canon of Ptolemy, the very year of this capture, 
according to the Hebrew numbers. It will be observed that the 
writer of Kings does not say that Shalmaneser took Samaria, but 
only that the "King of Assyria" did so; and in ch. xviii. 10 he is 
still more cautious ; for, having stated that " Shalmaneser came up 
against Samaria and besieged it," he adds, that "at the end of three 
years they took it.'" 

Nothing is known respecting the death of Shalmaneser ; but 
Sargon reports concerning himself, in the great inscription published 
by Botta : ' The city of Samaria (Samerina) I assaulted, I took ; 
27,280 men dwelling in the midst thereof I carried off; fifty chariots 
among them I set apart (for myself), and the rest of their wealth I let 
(my soldiers) take ; my prefect over them I appointed, and the 
tribute of the former king upon them I laid.' 

Dr. Lumby in a note on ch. xviii. 10, observes that the consonants 
might be fitted with vowel-points, making them read, ' he took it.' 
But the vowels for the plural form, they, as given by the Massoretes, 
can only be the result of a long-retained tradition. 



The various Fates of the Scapegoat. 

LEVITICUS xvi. 21, 22 : ' And shall send him away by the hands of a man that 
is in readiness into the wilderness ; and the goat shall bear upon him all theii 
iniquities into a solitary land : and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.' 

Difficulty. This requirement would have to be modified when tht 
people no longer lived in the desert districts. Are there any traces oj 
the later fulfilment of the injunction ? 

Explanation. According to the law of Moses, the scapegoa 
was led into the wilderness, and there set free. But on one occasior 
the animal returned to Jerusalem, and the omen was thought so bac 
that afterwards it was led out to a high mountain, called Sook, am 
there pushed over the precipice, and dashed to pieces. It was takei 
out on the Sabbath day. To evade, therefore, the law of the Sabbath 
day's journey, a tabernacle was erected at every term of 2,oo< 
cubits, in which the messenger ate and drank, after which he wa 
legally enabled to travel another stage. Ten such tabernacles wer 
constructed between Sook and Jerusalem, and the distance wa 
ninety Ris, or about six and a half English miles. The district wa 
called Hidoodim, and the high mountain, Sook, the first meanin 
sharp, the second narrow, both applying well to the knife-edge- 
ridges of the desert and hill. The distance of ninety Ris, measure* 
from Jerusalem, brings us now to a great hill called El Muntar 



2 HE VARIOUS FATES OF THE SCAPEGOAT. 129 

beside the ancient road from Jerusalem there is now a well called 
Suk, while in the modern Hadeidun, which is applied to a part of the 
ridge, we may recognise the earlier Hebrew word Hidoodim. 
Captain Conder, R.E., who suggests this identification, thinks we 
have in the present El Muntar the scene of the destruction of the 
scapegoat. (* Biblical Things.') 

There are now no sacrificial priests, and of course the ' scapegoat,' 
or goat of Azazel, is not sent into the wilderness. 

The curious feature of the modern Day of Atonement is the 
sacrifice of a cock ; and the greatest pains are taken to secure a white 
cock. ' The reason why they use a cock rather than any other 
creature is this : In Hebrew a man is called Gever. Now if Gever 
(man) has sinned, Gever must also sustain the penalty thereof. But 
since the punishment is heavier than the Jews can bear, the Rabbis 
have substituted for them a cock, which in the Chaldee dialect is 
called Gever, and thus the Divine justice is assumed to be satisfied ; 
because as Gever has sinned, so Gever, i.e., a cock, is sacrificed.' 
But no attempt is made to provide two cocks, and liberate one, which 
would seem to be the fitting reproduction of the older ceremony. 



The Nature of Solomon's Idolatry. 

I KINGS xi. 4 : ' For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives 
turned away his heart after other gods : and his heart was riot perfect with the 
Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.' 

Question. Are there any qualifications that should be put on 
the apparent representation of Solomon as an apostate ? 

Answer. The Bible never represents Solomon as a personally 
pious man. He was officially religious. Religion for him belonged 
to kingship. It was a matter of state policy to uphold the national 
ceremonial, and to make it as magnificent as possible. But when a 
man's attention is attracted to ceremonial, he loses the sense of ex- 
clusiveness in religion, and becomes interested in various ceremonials, 
and inclines towards the most magnificent. 

But Solomon's grave peril lay in the exaggerated liberalism of the 
religion he had. It was such liberalism as usually characterizes a 
commercial and wealthy age. It is especially pointed out, that 
Solomon's self-indulgence led him to take wives from the princely 
families of the neighbouring idolatrous nations, and it was inevitable 
that their religious preferences would have to be considered, and 
though Solomon would not go the length of introducing idolatrous 
altars or temples into Jerusalem, he did allow the hilltops round the 

9 



130 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

Holy City to become idolatrous ' high places.' He even went so far 
as to meet the wishes of his wives, and make the required provision 
for their worship. ' Then did Solomon build an high place for 
Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jeru- 
salem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. 
And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense 
and sacrificed unto their gods.' 

It is pressing the narrative too hard to make it mean that Solomon 
became himself an idolater. His sin lay in his indifference to the 
exclusive claims of Jehovah in the land of Canaan. It lay in what 
he permitted rather than in what he himself did. The true-hearted 
servant of Jehovah cannot fail to be vigorous in his opposition to all 
rival deities. Jealousy of the Divine honour is a necessary feature of 
the ' perfect heart ' towards Jehovah, which was characteristic of 
David, but could not be found in Solomon. Solomon was officially 
true to Jehovah right to the end of life. If he had been personally 
pious, heart-consecrated to Jehovah, he would have guarded Jehovah's 
claim, and Temple, and land, from every encroachment of idolatry. 
It was in that he so shamefully failed, through a false liberalism, 
which almost persuaded him to say : * Each man's religion is the best 
for himself.' ' One religion is as good as another.' 

As careful estimates of Solomon's religious character are seldom 
made, it may be helpful to select, from the foremost writers on the 
Old Testament history, some judicious criticisms. One writer says : 
'Brought up from his infancy in wealth, he never knew poverty, 
hardship, or trouble, and consequently sides of his nature must have 
been undeveloped. We never find in him that heart-crying for God 
which distinguished his suffering and persecuted father. His religion 
had not been a thing of personal struggle, and was always viewed by 
him as intended for the practical guidance of conduct ; it did not 
possess him as a Divine force, finding expression first in commun- 
ings with God, and then in a life of holiness. . . . Very much im- 
portance attached to the personal character of the king, and that very 
sadly deteriorated towards the end of his life. It may fairly be dis- 
puted whether he ever gave up the worship of Jehovah and became 
an idolater. We incline to think that he did not, and that his sin 
was the laxity with which he regarded the introduction of foreign and 
idolatrous customs, and the luxury of living which he permitted to 
himself and his court.' 

Professor Wilkins writes as follows concerning the restoration of the 
worship of Baal and Ashtaroth : ' In the days of Solomon, partly no 
doubt from policy, partly from a dangerous latitudinarianism, taking 
the form of a desire to recognise the germ of good that might under- 



THE NA TURE OF SOLOMON'S ID OLA TRY. 131 

lie the evil of foreign religions, partly, as the Scripture narrative dis- 
tinctly asserts, from the fascination of " strange women," he went 
after Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians. Perhaps we may 
accept the opinion of Ewald, supported by many forcible arguments, 
that Solomon did not himself fall into idolatry, but only sanctioned 
the hereditary worship of his Sidonian, Ammonite, and Moabite 
wives. And Dean Milman has well reminded us that the extent of 
Solomon's empire enforced either toleration or internecine persecu- 
tion. " When the king of the Jews became king of a great Eastern 
empire, he had no course but to tolerate the religion of his non- 
Jewish subjects, or to exterminate them." ' 

In the most recent * Life of Solomon,' Archdeacon Farrar takes 
the severest view of Solomon's apostasy. * For an apostasy we must 
call it, as St. Augustine does.' 'For the sake of his other wives 
(other than Pharaoh's daughter) he lent to idolatry the sanction not 
only of tolerance, not only of acquiescence, but of direct participation 
in the most revolting forms of superstition. The bare mention of 
the fact in the Book of Kings affords us no measure of the depth of 
his fall. If we are to take the statement literally, he offered burnt 
offerings and thank offerings on stated occasions during all his life 
upon the great brazen altar, and also burnt incense. The case is 
thus made much worse. The worship of Jehovah was rigidly and 
jealously exclusive whenever it was in any way sincere. But 
Solomon's devotions became not merely eclectic, but were a 
syncretism of the most glaringly contrasted and violently opposing 
elements, between which no union was for a moment possible. Like 
the dregs of a mixed population which the kings of Assyria placed 
in Samaria an ignorant multitude, who " feared the Lord and served 
their own gods" so Solomon, but with infinitely less excuse, 
worshipped alike in the Temple of Jehovah and in that of Chemosh, 
and that not only in secrecy, but publicly on the hill opposite his 
own palace and Temple. For Solomon " went after " in other words, 
idolatrously worshipped Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians.' 

The Altar of Ed. 

JOSHUA xxii. 10 : ' And when they came unto the borders of Jordan, that are in 
the land of Canaan, the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half 
tribe of Manasseh built there an altar by Jordan, a great altar to see to.' 

Question. Has any light been thrown^ by recent explorations, on 
the position of the hill on which this altar was erected ? 

Answer. The question is an interesting one, as showing the im- 
portance of the work done by the ' Palestine Exploration Society/ 

92 



r 3 2 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

The site of this altar seems to have been entirely forgotten ; and until 
recent times, no successful attempt had been made to recover it > 
and yet its identification would be a striking confirmation of the 
genuineness of the Old Testament history, and a remarkable survival 
of the old Biblical names. 

All that was known was, that the altar was erected, purely as a 
monument, on some conspicuous position, near the Jordan, and on 
the western side. It stood to represent the rights of the Trans- 
Jordanic tribes in the Holy Land. Conder, in his ' Survey of Pales- 
tine,' gave particular attention to this site, and the identification of it 
will ever be associated with his name. The following is the most 
interesting portion of his report on the subject : 

1 From the internal evidence we are able to point with tolerable 
accuracy to the approximate position and character of the great 
Witness Altar. It must be near and above Jordan, on some hilltop 
west of the river, between the modern village of Seilun and the ford 
of the Damieh, placed in a conspicuous position, and possibly giving 
ruins of some magnitude. In addition to which we should hope to 
find remains of the name in some modern Arabic word. There is 
but one spot in Palestine which will fulfil these very definite require- 
ments, and that spot is perhaps the most conspicuous in the country. 
From the heights of Ebal its sharp cone stands out against the white 
valley ; from the Castle of Kaukab el Hawa, near Gennesaret, it is 
visible at a distance of thirty miles ; from the shores of the Dead 
Sea and the plains of Jericho it stands forth prominently as a great 
bastion closing the Jordan Valley ; from the eastern highlands it is no 
less conspicuous, and from the Judaean watershed it is visible at a 
great distance. Every traveller who has been to Jericho has seen it ; 
all have asked what it is, and been disappointed to find that it was 
of no historical importance, and had only a modern Arabic name. 
For nearly a month I lived at its foot, firmly convinced that so con- 
spicuous a landmark must have played a part in history, yet utterly 
puzzled as to what that part could have been. To every explorer it 
has been a point of interest, and yet I hardly know of one who has 
examined it. The place in question is the high cone of the Kurn 
Surtabeh, the Surtabeh of the Talmud, and one of the most impor- 
tant of our trigonometrical stations on the eastern border of the 
survey. . . . Upon its summit remains to this day the ruin of a 
great monument of the kind indicated in the Bible account. At the 
foot of the mountain lie the Gelilloth of Jordan, the ground being of 
that peculiar broken character to which I suppose the word specially to 
refer. When, in addition to these indications, we find a trace of the 



THE ASSYRIAN COLONISTS OF SAMARIA. 133 

original name, the conclusion seems irresistible. For some time I 
sought this in vain on the map. It is a question which I leave to 
the learned whether there can be any connection between the name 
Surtabeh and the Hebrew Metzebeh the altar. The remaining 
summits of the block are called respectively El Musetterah, Ras el 
Kuneiberah, and Ras el Hafireh. The real name, as often happens, 
has deserted the place itself, but may still be traced in the neighbour- 
hood. I have already pointed out that the natural ascent to the 
Kurn is from the north. On this side I find marked on our map, as 
a valley name, Tal 'at Abn 'Ayd (The ascent of tlie father of 'Ayd}. 
The peculiar use in the vernacular Arabic of the word Abn, as mean- 
ing that which produces, leads to, or possesses, would make the 
natural translation of this term to be, "The going up which leads to 
'Ayd," or Ed. Though the monument itself has lost its real name, 
the ascent to the summit, by which the strong men of the two and a 
half tribes must have gone up, preserved the memory of the Witness 
Altar.' 

The Assyrian Colonists of Samaria. 

2 KINGS xvii. 33, Rev. Ver. : ' They feared the Lord, and served their own gods, 
after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried away.' 

Question. Is the recognition of Jehovah by these colonists to be 
regarded as in any sense satisfactory or hopeful ? 

Answer. The removal of populations, in ancient times, was not 
done in the interests of religion, but of public and national policy. 
The idea that each kingdom and country had its own local gods pre- 
vented the ancients from attempting to extend their religions. No 
religion then was thought of as having exclusive claims to the alle- 
giance of everybody, and even the Jews were under no obligation to 
propagate that really universal religion which had been entrusted to 
their care, until the fulness of the times had come. It was only an 
accident, therefore, and no settled intention of the conquerors, that 
the colonists brought their religion from their Eastern homes, and 
established it in Samaria. 

It is difficult to recover the circumstances which made the wholesale 
removal of populations a wise policy. It may have been the ancient 
method of relieving districts that were overcrowded, and so it answered 
to the emigration schemes of modern times. It may have been the 
most efficient way of securing conquests that were made very rapidly ; 
and the persons carried away may have been the leaders, who might 
head revolt against the conquerors. It was a vigorous way of dealing 
with turbulent populations, breaking them up into widely-separated 



i 3 4 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

sections, beyond the power of inter-communication. Or it may have 
been a way of reoccupying devastated districts, so as to secure revenue 
from them for the conquerors. 

We are to understand that the Assyrians carried away the aristo- 
cratic sections of the people of Samaria, and the artisan and trading 
classes, but left the poor and disabled. To take possession of houses, 
farms, etc., and carry on the ordinary life of the towns and villages, 
people of the commercial and the working classes were brought from 
various parts of Assyria. Purposely people from different districts 
had been selected, so that there might be conflicting interests, and 
no chance of combination to secure independence. At first these 
colonists were scattered over the country, and not sufficient in number 
to till all the land, or even preserve themselves from the increase and 
inroads of the wild beasts. This particular evil, indeed, so grew 
upon them, that common counsel for the common protection became 
necessary. They could but think about the matter along their own 
lines, and the readiest solution to men who believed in gods belonging 
to each country was, that the god of the country of Samaria was 
taking this method of avenging himself for the neglect of his worship; 
and that the way to appease him was to give him a place among the 
gods of their own lands. Of course, their real interest lay in the gods 
with whom they were familiar, and those they really served with their 
hearts. It is significantly said, ' They feared the Lord,' because 
whatever worship they offered to Him was due only to anxiety about 
the safety of themselves and their property. 

It is manifest that religion of this kind could be no satisfaction at 
all to Jehovah, nor could it unfold, in after generations, into anything 
better than a mixed religion, in which superstitious elements would 
be of much more importance than moral elements. Our Lord, in 
talking to the woman of Samaria, would not recognise the Samaritan 
religion as based on any sound foundations. 

Geikie supports this view. * Stripped of its inhabitants the land of 
Samaria threatened to relapse into a wilderness. Beasts of prey, and 
notably lions, increased so much as to become dangerous a calamity 
which seemed to the superstitious foreign settlers scattered over it a 
judgment on them for their not knowing how to worship the local 
god. At their humble request, therefore, an Israelite priest was sent 
from Assyria to give them the needful instruction, and to set apart 
whom he could as his colleagues. But heathenism is difficult to 
eradicate, and the only result was the addition of the God of Israel 
to the gods of the different nations now in the land.' 

C. J. Ball points out that the term ' fear of the Lord ' is used, not 



THE ASSYRIAN COLONISTS OF SAMARIA. 135 

in the modern ethical but in the ancient ceremonial sense, and says : 
'In the interval between the Assyrian depopulation and the re- 
peopling of the land, the lions indigenous to the country had multi- 
plied naturally enough. Their ravages were understood by the 
colonists as a token of the wrath of the local deity on account of 
their neglect of his worship. The sacred writer endorses this inter- 
pretation of the incidents, probably remembering Lev. xxvi. 22.' 
The remnant of the ten tribes who amalgamated with the new settlers 
seem to have accepted the mixed religion which they adopted ; but 
we must keep in mind that the people of Israel had become virtual 
idolaters before the Samaritan kingdom was destroyed. 

Speaker's Commentary meets the question why the colonists could 
not learn the manner of the old worship from the * remnant of Israel,' 
if any were left in the land. ' The answer seems to be, that the 
arcana of the worship would be known to none excepting the priests 
who had ministered at the two national sanctuaries of Dan and 
Bethel ; and that these, as being important personages, had been 
carried off. The expression, " One of the priests whom ye brought 
from thence" shows that the colonization had taken place, the afflic- 
tion from the lions been suffered, and the embassy sent, while the 
original captives were still living therefore long before Esar-haddon.' 

Commenting on this attempt to unite Jehovah worship with 
idolatry, Bishop Hall says : ' This they did, not for devotion, but for 
impunity. Vain politicians, to think to satisfy God by patching up 
religions ! What a prodigious mixture was here, true with false, 
Jewish with paganish, Divine with devilish ! No beggar's cloak is 
more pieced than the religion of these new inhabitants of Israel. I 
know not how their bodies sped for the lions. I am sure their souls 
fared the worse for this medley. Above all things, God hates a 
mongrel devotion. If we be not all Israel, it were better to be all 
Asshur. It cannot so much displease God to be unknown or neg- 
lected as to be consorted with idols.' 

Dr. J. A. Alexander says the mistake of these people 'lay in 
imagining that forms of worship, extorted from them by their selfish 
fears, would be sufficient to propitiate the Most High, and secure 
them from His vengeance ; while their voluntary service, their 
cordial and habitual devotion, was expended on His enemies and 
rivals.' 



136 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 



David and the Philistine Images. 

2 SAMUEL v. 21, Rev. Ver. : ' And they left their images there, and David and 
his men took them away.' 

i CHRON. xiv. 12, A'ev. Ver.: 'And they left their gods there; and David 
gave commandment, and they were burned with fire.' 

Difficulty. One account seems to say they were ' taken away,' the 
other seems to say that they were ' destroyed? 

Explanation. In the Authorised Version of 2 Sam. v. 21, it is 
said that 'his men burned them;' but the marginal note is 'took 
them away,' and this has been properly put in the text of the Revised 
Version. The Hebrew word rendered ' took them away ' is equi- 
valent to ' destroyed them ;' and then the statement found in i Chron. 
xiv. 12, is only an addition, giving the particular way in which they 
were destroyed. 

We understand that the attack of David on the Philistines was a 
sudden raid, and the passage 2 Sam. v. 21 indicates the precipitancy 
of their flight, so they could not even attempt to save their gods, or 
the images which the nations of antiquity were accustomed to carry 
into battle with them, believing that there was virtue in the images 
themselves, and that military success would be obtained by means of 
them. The suddenness of the Israelite attack is likened to the 
bursting forth of a breach of waters. 

Among the spoil these images, or gods, were discovered, and they 
were carried off by the people. Subsequently David found them an 
occasion of mischief, and therefore commanded that they should be 
burned. The first passage may simply narrate what took place on 
the day of battle ; the second tells what ultimately was done with the 
images. 

Canon Rawlinson may be cited as supporting this view. 'The 
present passage (i Chron. xiv. 12) has been called a "contradiction " 
of the one in Samuel, but at the utmost it is an addition. We may 
either understand the phrase, " took them away," as equivalent to 
"destroyed them," or we may take it literally, and conclude that 
David, in the first instance, carried the images as trophies to Jeru- 
salem, but that when he had exhibited them there, he obeyed the 
injunctions of the law (Deut. vii. 5, 25) and destroyed them with 
fire.' 



ASSYRIA HELPING AHAZ. 137 



Assyria Helping Ahaz. 

2 KINGS xvi. 9 : 'And the king of Assyria hearkened unto him : for the king 
of Assyria went up against Damascus, and took it.' 

2 CHRON. xxviii. 20: 'And Tilgath-pilneser, king of Assyria, came unto him, 
and distressed him, but strengthened him not.' 

Difficulty. These verses give distinctly opposite accounts of the 
relations subsisting between Ahaz and, the king of Assyria. 

Explanation. Let us first see clearly what the contradiction 
appears to be. We read in the Book of Kings of a monarch who is 
said to have hearkened to another monarch's plea for help, and so 
far to have succeeded in rendering it as to have taken his enemy's 
capital, put its king to death, and carried its inhabitants away into 
captivity. Yet it is stated in the parallel narrative in Chronicles that 
the same monarch distressed the King of Judah, for whom he had 
done such a work of destruction, and strengthened him not. 

The king referred to as the one from whom help was sought was 
Tiglath-Pileser, the Tiger-Lord of Assyria. And a tiger he proved 
himself to be to more than one party engaged in the strife. He slew 
Rezin, King of Syria ; took possession of Damascus, its capital ; sent 
its inhabitants into captivity, and broke up the kingdom, establishing 
himself upon its ruins. So far he hearkened to Ahaz, and helped 
him out of his impending difficulties. 

But when we inquire what price Ahaz had to pay for this help, we 
find that it was no real help. The removal of peril in one direction 
involved the infliction of serious distress in another. Ahaz paid a 
dear price for his alliance with Assyria. He had to strip his own 
palace, and rob the house of God, of all the gold and silver in it ; he 
had to rob the princes, rob the people, to bribe this heathen prince 
to render him assistance. So it came to pass that, while in one way 
Tiglath helped Ahaz, in another way he seriously distressed him, and 
both the Scripture representations are correct. 

An illustration may be found in our own national history. The 
Britons invoke the Saxons to aid them against the Picts and Scots. 
They comply gladly enough, help them to repel the invaders, but 
forget to return, and remain masters of the country. The Saxons 
' hearkened ' to the Britons, but it is equally true that ' they distressed 
them, and strengthened them not.' 

The expression 'distressed him,' refers to the King of Assyria's 
demands upon Ahaz, before and after the battle, and not to any 
failure on his part in the performance of his compact relating to the 
Syro-Israelitish invasion. 



138 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 



Abijah's Mother. 

2 CHRON. xi. 20 : ' Maachah the daughter of Absalom.' 

2 CHRON. xiii. 2 : 'Michaiah the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah.' 

Question. Who was the actual father of Maachah ? 

Answer. This subject is of interest as illustrating a class of 
Bible difficulties those which are created by the incompleteness of 
the information that is at our command. Common-sense usually 
suffices to supply the missing connections, and to adjust the various 
relationships. Here it is evident that Michaiah is a corruption of 
Maachah) as elsewhere Michaiah is a man's name. The Sept., Syriac, 
and Arabic versions read Maachah. 

In i Kings xv. 2, Maachah is called ' the daughter of Abishalomj 
which is evidently another spelling of Absalom. But Absalom is re- 
ported to have had only one daughter, Tamar (2 Sam. xiv. 27); and 
therefore Maachah must have been grand-daughter of Absalom, and 
not daughter. We are left to assume that Tamar married Uriel of 
Gibeah, and Maachah was the offspring of this marriage. She took 
her name from her great-grandmother, Maachah of Geshur, wife of 
David and mother of Absalom. 

Joseph confirms the supposition that Maachah was the daughter of 
Tamar. (Ant. viii. 10, i). 

Observe with what simplicity a series of divergences may be 
harmonized. Here are two forms of the name Maachah. Two 
forms of the name Absalom. The assertion that Maachah was the 
daughter of Absalom, and the assertion that Maachah was the 
daughter of Uriel. And yet every difficulty fades away when the 
indistinctness of Eastern relationships is once recognised, and daughter 
is in the one case understood to mean grand-daughter. 

Very many similar difficulties in the historical books simply need a 
similar common-sense treatment. 

Solomon's Ascent to the Temple. 

i KINGS x. 5 : ' And his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the 
Lord.' 

Question. Is there any independent information at command, 
which will help us to understand what this so-called ' ascent ' was ? 

Answer. There is a preliminary difficulty which must be con- 
sidered. The word translated * ascent,' in this passage, is not pre- 
cisely the same as the word translated * ascent ' in 2 Chron. ix. 4. 
Strictly the word found in Kings should be rendered, ' and his burnt 



SOLOMON'S ASCENT TO THE TEMPLE. 139 

offering. 5 This rendering is placed in the margin of the Revised 
Version, as an alternative reading. The difference between the 
original words is, however, so slight, that it is probably due to an 
error of the copyist The authors of the Revised Version have 
recognised this, and preferred to harmonize the text in Kings with 
that in Chronicles. Some kind of building certainly suits better the 
very material things with which the ascent is associated in this verse. 
There was nothing specially to surprise the Queen of Sheba in Solomon's 
mode of sacrificing burnt offerings. 

Assuming that some sort of erection, of a novel character, is meant, 
we may choose between the following suggestions. Archdeacon 
Farrar says : ' As the palace stood on a lower elevation than the 
Temple, the king built for his private use a staircase of the red and 
scented sandal-wood, which now became an article of import for the 
wealthy. This precious staircase led to the seats in the Temple, 
which were specially used for the king on state occasions, of which 
one seems to have stood in the inner court surrounded by a balus- 
trade, and another was supported on a platform or pediment of 
brass.' (See 2 Kings xi. 14; xvi. 18; xxiii. 3 ; 2 Chron. vi. 13.) 

Lewin, in his work ' Jerusalem,' says : * The palace of Solomon 
was below the Temple platform, and in laying the solid foundations 
of Millo, provision had been made for a double passage from the 
palace to the Temple, about 250 feet long and 42 feet wide, formed 
of bevelled stones, and rising by a gentle incline to one of the gates 
of the inner Temple. This marvellous subterranean approach, im- 
pregnable from its nature to the ravages of time, still remains, though 
painfully disfigured : it is called, to this day, the Temple of 
Solomon.' 

Porter gives an account of the recent discoveries, which appear to 
throw light on the question before us, but suggest quite a different 
explanation : * The palace of King Solomon was built on Mount 
Zion, while the Temple stood on the summit of Moriah. Between 
these two hills was a deep valley or ravine. Recent research has 
brought to light the remains of a colossal bridge which spanned this 
ravine, and connected the palace and the Temple. It must have 
been one of the most splendid architectural works in the Holy City. 
The masonry is unquestionably Jewish, but of what period of Jewish 
rule cannot be yet said to have been fully ascertained. One of the 
stones in the fragment of the arch still remaining measures twenty- 
four feet in length, and another twenty. Calculating by the curve 
of the arch, and the distance from the Temple wall to the rocky side 
of Mount Zion opposite, the bridge when complete would seem to 



140 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

have been composed of five arches, each about forty-one feet in span ; 
and its elevation above the bottom of the ravine could scarcely have 
been less than a hundred feet. The first definite mention of this 
bridge is in connection with the siege of Jerusalem by Pompey, 
twenty years before Herod ascended the throne. It was not, there- 
fore, a work of Herod. It was built long before his day. There are 
no data, however, by which to connect it with the "ascent" of 
Solomon. The Hebrew word is correctly rendered "ascent," and it 
may either be by stairs or otherwise. The same ascent is apparently 
referred to in i Chron. xxvi. 16 : "To Shuppim and Hosah the lot 
came forth westward, at the gate Shallecheth, by the causeway of the 
going up" The word translated " causeway " means a viaduct of any 
kind, and then a staircase. Would it not strike one, on reading the 
whole narratives, that some very remarkable approach to the Temple 
is referred to by the sacred writers ; and that it was in some way 
appropriated to the use of the king ? If such a bridge as that, whose 
ruins are now seen, existed in Solomon's day, it would, unquestion- 
ably, make a profound impression on the mind of the Queen of 
Sheba.' 

The Pharaoh who Advanced Joseph. 

GENESIS xli. 14 : ' Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him 
hastily out of the dungeon.' 

Question. Have recent researches settled whether this Pharaoh 
was> or was not, one of the Hyksos sovereigns ? 

Answer. Difficulty in coming to a decision is created by the 
condition of the Egyptian dynastic records. We have the names of 
the 1 2th dynasty, closing with Amenemha IV., B.C. 2266. Then for 
500 years there is a break, during which the dynasties 13 to 17 were 
established. The ' Shepherd Kings ' come in somewhere during this 
500 years. The list is resumed with the i8th dynasty, the first name 
being Ahmes, B.C. 1700. 

Professor George Rawlinson says : ' How long the Egyptians groaned 
under the tyranny of the " Shepherds," it is difficult to say. The 
epitomists of Manetho are hopelessly at variance on the subject, and 
the monuments are silent, or nearly so. Moderns vary in the time 
which they assign to the period, between two centuries and five. 
There is but one dynasty of " Shepherd Kings " that has any distinct 
historical substance, or to which we can assign any names. This is 
a dynasty of six kings only, whose united reigns are not likely to have 
exceeded two centuries. After the dynasty had borne rule for five 
reigns, covering the space perhaps of one hundred and fifty years, a 



THE PHARAOH WHO ADVANCED JOSEPH. 141 

king came to the throne named Apepi, who has left several monu- 
ments, and is the only one of the " shepherds " that stands out for us 
in definite historical consistency as a living and breathing person. 
Apepi built a great temple to Sutekh at Zoan or Tanis, his principal 
city, composed of blocks of red granite, and adorned it with obelisks 
and sphinxes. The pacific rule of Apepi and his predecessors 
allowed Thebes to increase in power, and her monuments now re- 
commence.' 

There was an ancient tradition, that the king who made Joseph 
his prime minister, and committed into his hands the entire ad- 
ministration of Egypt, was Apepi. George Syncellus says that the 
synchronism was accepted by all. It is clear that Joseph's arrival 
did not fall, like Abraham's, into the period of the Old Empire, since 
under Joseph horses and chariots are in use, as well as waggons or 
carts, all of which were unknown until after the Hyksos invasion. 
It is also more natural that Joseph, a foreigner, should have been 
advanced by a foreign king than by a native one, and the favour 
shown to his brethren, who were shepherds, is consonant at any rate 
with the tradition that it was a ' Shepherd King ' who held the throne 
at the time of their arrival. A priest of Heliopolis, moreover, would 
scarcely have given Joseph his daughter in marriage unless at a time 
when the priesthood was in a state of depression. Add to this that 
the Pharaoh of Joseph is evidently resident in Lower Egypt, not at 
Thebes, which was the seat of government for many hundred years 
both before and after the Hyksos rule. 

If, however, we are to place Joseph under one of the * Shepherd 
Kings,' there can be no reason why we should not accept the tradi- 
tion which connects him with Apepi. Apepi was dominant over the 
whole of Egypt, as Joseph's Pharaoh seems to have been. He 
acknowledged a single god, as did that monarch (Gen. xli. 38, 39). 
He was a thoroughly Egyptianized king. He had a council of 
.earned Scribes, a magnificent court, and a peaceful reign until towards 
its close. His residence was in the Delta, either at Tanis, or Avaris. 
He was a prince of a strong will, firm and determined ; one who did 
lot shrink from initiating great changes, and who carried out his 
esolves in a somewhat arbitrary way. The arguments in favour of 
lis identity with Joseph's master are, perhaps, not wholly conclusive ; 
3ut they raise a presumption, which may well incline us, with most 
nodern historians of Egypt, to assign the touching story of Joseph 

the reign of the last of the shepherds. 

Canon Bell, in his interesting work ' A Winter on the Nile,' reports 

1 visit to Bubastis, the Pi-beseth of the Bible, in order to examine 



i 4 2 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

the excavations proceeding under the direction of M. Naville, and 
quotes the following passage from a letter sent by M. Naville to the 
Times, of April 6, 1888 : 

' Our most important discovery up to the present time was made 
yesterday morning. I had noticed on Friday the corner of a block 
of polished black granite which I thought might belong to some good 
monument, and I had it unearthed yesterday. It proved to be the 
lower half of a life-size figure of very beautiful workmanship, with 
two columns of finely-cut hieroglyphics, engraved down each side of 
the front of the throne to right and left of the legs of the statue. 
These inscriptions give the name and titles of an absolutely unknown 
king, who, judging from the work, must belong to the Hyksos period, 
or, at all events, to one of the obscure dynasties preceding the 
Hyksos invasion. I forward a copy of the inscriptions. One car- 
touche contains a sign which is quite new to me, and which I there- 
fore cannot decipher. The other reads " Jan-Ra," or " Ra-ian " a 
name unlike any I have ever seen. He is described, most strangely, 
as the worshipper of his Ka (i.e., his ghost, or double). . . . Since 
writing the above, I have been over to Boulak, and have shown my 
copy of the inscriptions to Ahmed-Kemaled Deen Effendi, the 
Mohammedan official attached to the museum. He was deeply 
interested, and said at once, " That is the Pharaoh of Joseph. All 
our Arab books call him Reiydn, the son of El Welid." He then 
wrote the name for me in Arabic, which I enclose herewith. For my 
own part, I know nothing of Arab literature or Arab tradition. I 
should not, however, be disposed to attach much weight to this 
curious coincidence. Still it is curious, and certainly interesting.' 

Canon Bell adds : * It may be well not to be too hasty in concluding 
that the statue with the cartouche, on which is the name Jan-Ra, is 
Joseph's Pharaoh, but it is possible that it is ; and Mr. F. D. Griffith, 
student attached to the Egypt Exploration Fund, furnishes some 
additional evidence bearing on this possibility. He says : " The only 
Hyksos (shepherd) monument in the British Museum is a small lion 
in the northern vestibule. This monument is of Hyksos style, and 
bears a name that hitherto has baffled students. It is very in- 
distinctly engraved. On examining it I feel convinced that the name 
is the singularly written throne name of Raian, as inscribed on the 
seat of the statue discovered by M. Naville. -The date thus obtained 
is in harmony with the general opinion that Joseph ruled Egypt under 
one or more of the Hyksos Pharaohs," ' 



NAAMAN'S COMPROMISE. 143 



Naaman's Compromise. 

2 KINGS v. 1 8 : 'In this thing the Lord pardon thy servant, that when my 
master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my 
Hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon ; when I bow down myself in the 
:iouse of Rimmon, the Lord pardon thy servant in this thing.' 

Difficulty. Can we conceive of God as willing to accept private 
religion which a man was unwilling to let influence his official rela- 
tions ? 

Explanation. Naaman's was but an imperfect conversion. 
To his mind Jehovah was simply the god of the country ; one among 
the many gods of the many countries. He had even paid Jehovah 
some respect by being willing to submit his case to His consideration. 
In the sudden impulse of gratitude, he was prepared to recognise 
Jehovah as a superior God, as even the supreme God. But, if he 
had been truly converted changed in heart he would not have 
taken into consideration the peril of losing his official position through 
loyalty to Jehovah. Like all imperfectly converted persons, Naaman 
wanted his new religion to keep away from his life and relations. He 
was willing to have it as a private enjoyment. And true religion 
will not come to a man at all, unless the man is willing to let it be a 
life-controlling force. Naaman would not keep his Jehovah-religion 
long, if he went bowing with his master in the house of Rimmon. 
The Prophet Elisha in no way expresses approval of his suggestion. 
Elisha's * go in peace ' is merely a polite farewell, with the intimation 
that, on the question of bowing to Rimmon, he has nothing to say. 
The history tells us no more about Naaman, and we should always 
bear in mind that narratives introduced into Scripture concerning 
heathen lands or persons, are never introduced for their sakes, but 
only for the sake of the influence these had on God's people. 
Naaman's story was an impressive declaration of Jehovah's power to 
help ; and it was made all the more impressive because it concerned 
the chief captain of one of the national enemies. 

The request of Naaman for ' two mules' burden of earth ' is ex- 
plained by the common notion of the day, that the power and in- 
fluence of each god was limited to the soil of the country to which 
he belonged. So by carrying the soil of Canaan to Syria, and 
standing on it when he prayed to Jehovah, Naaman thought he could 
ensure the acceptableness of his prayers and worship. Elisha ex- 
pressed no sort of approval of this notion. Indeed, his relations 
with Naaman were almost curt. He evidently did not feel it any 
duty of his to rejoice over this sudden convert to Jehovah. He had 



144 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

done his duty to God in cleansing the man ; but he did not wish to 
have any more to do with him. 

Dr. Lumby sees more in Elisha's simple answer to Naaman than 
we do, but, in general, he supports the explanation given above. 
'Naaman can see the inconsistency of his conduct. He will offer 
no more sacrifices to Rimmon. But the king his master worships in 
Rimmon's temple, and Naaman must be in attendance, and must 
bow when the king bows down, or he will give offence. He sets his 
difficulty before Elisha, and Elisha, regarding the degree of his faith 
and obedience as all that could be expected from his amount of 
light, gives him a comforting answer. We must judge both Naaman 
and the prophet according to the times in which they lived. It was 
impossible for the former at once to cast away all his old ideas. His 
strongest wish, for some of the soil of the holy land to carry home, 
bespeaks the darkness in which he had lived and was living, and 
a new creature is not to be made in a moment out of men like 
Naaman. Elisha, on the other hand, had no light such as we have 
concerning God's message to the heathen ; the Jew has not, either in 
ancient or in modern times, been a missionary, and we need not judge 
Elisha hardly, because he felt no call to rebuke the half-converted 
heathen for his imperfect service. The Lord had not yet given His 
message to any of the chosen people " Go ye out into all the world." 
. . . We are not to consider Elisha's answer as implying that service 
of God and service of Rimmon might be combined without any in- 
congruity. The prophet appears rather to be willing to leave the good 
seed already sown to bear fruit in due season.' 

Geikie treats Elisha's answer as an approval of the suggested com- 
promise. ' It is in keeping with the ideas of the age, that the grateful 
Syrian should ask leave to carry back to Damascus two mules' burden 
of earth to build an altar to Jehovah on the soil of his own land : on 
which alone, men would then think, He could be rightly honoured. 
The altar, moreover, would be a memorial to the God of Israel in a 
foreign land, like the synagogue raised, ages later, by the Jews of 
Nahardea, in Persia, all the stones and earth of which had been 
brought from Jerusalem. He makes only one request more, and 
this the prophet, with a fine anticipation of Christian charity, tacitly 
grants. When his master, leaning on his arm, required him to go 
into the temple of Rimmon, and he had to prostrate himself before 
the god ; he trusted it would not be reckoned disloyalty to Jehovah, 
whom alone he would henceforth worship.' 

Matt. Henry says : * Naaman's dissembling his religion cannot be 
approved ; yet by promising to offer no sacrifice to any but the God 



NAAMAN'S COMPROMISE. 145 

of Israel, and by asking pardon in this matter, he showed such 
ingenuousness as gave hope of further improvement; and young 
converts must be tenderly dealt with.' 

Kitto strongly objects to the idea that Naaman proposed to build 
an altar with the earth. Such an idea was not likely to enter 
Naarnan's mind. * If we look to the uses to which the Easterns 
apply the soil of places accounted holy, it is possible we may discover 
the right reason for Naaman's singular request. To Mohammedans 
the sacred soil is that of Mecca ; and the man accounts himself 
happy who has in possession the smallest portion of it for use in his 
devotions. He carries it about his person in a small bag ; and in his 
prayers he deposits this before him upon the ground in such a manner 
that, in his frequent prostrations, the head comes down upon this 
morsel of sacred soil, so that in some sort he may be said to worship 
thereon. May it not be that Naaman contemplated forming, with 
this larger portion of the soil of the sacred land, a spot on which he 
might offer up his devotions to the God of Israel ?' 

Burder suggests that Naaman may have asked for the earth with a 
view to purification, and gives the following illustrations : ' If the 
Arab Algerines cannot come by any water, then they must wipe 
themselves as clean as they can, or they must smooth their hands 
over a stone two or three times, and rub them one with the other as 
if they were washing with water.' In a Mohammedan treatise on 
prayer, it is said : ' In case water is not to be had, that defect may 
be supplied with earth, a stone, or any other product of earth, and 
this is called tayamum, and is performed by cleaning the insides of 
the hands upon the same, rubbing therewith the face once ; and then 
again rubbing the hands upon the earth -stone, or whatever it be, 
stroking the right arm to the elbow with the left hand, and so the left 
with the right.' 

Canon Rawlinson deals very considerately both with Naaman and 
with Elisha. ' Naaman was not prepared to offend his master, either 
by refusing to enter with him into the temple of Rimmon, or by 
remaining erect when the king bowed down and worshipped the god. 
His conscience seems to have told him that such conduct was not 
right ; but he trusted that it might be pardoned, and he appealed to 
the prophet in the hope of obtaining from him an assurance to this 
effect. Elisha avoided any expression of either approval or dis- 
approval. He saw Naaman's weakness, but did not feel that it was 
necessary to rebuke it. Perhaps he was wrong not to be harder and 
more uncompromising, for the Old Testament saints are far from 
perfect characters. He was tender and soft-hearted, not stern and 

10 



146 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

rugged, like Elijah. He was drawn to the new convert, and inclined 
to hope the best for him. Moreover, he had no distinct message to 
the heathen, and no means of knowing with any certainty what God 
would require of them. Elisha may be pardoned if he did not 
himself clearly see the obligation of the convert to refuse all partici- 
pation in idolatry.' ' As a parting benediction, he wished that 
Jehovah's peace might rest on the Syrian general, and thus committed 
him to the Divine guidance without answering his closing words.' 

South calls the truth ' that we are neither to worship or cringe to 
anything under the Deity, a truth too strict for a Naaman ; he can be 
content to worship the one true God, but then it must be in the 
house of Rimmon. The reason was implied in his condition ; he 
was captain of the host, and therefore he thought it reason good to 
bow to Rimmon rather than endanger his place ; better bow than 
break.' 

Porter's summary of the narrative may be regarded as satisfactory. 
' Naaman was no true convert to Judaism. He had experienced the 
omnipotent power of the God of Israel : he resolved henceforth to 
acknowledge God as Supreme God, but he would not go so far as to 
give up his rank, or to risk his worldly power, by refusing to join with 
his sovereign in the worship of an idol. He was an intellectual 
convert, but his heart remained untouched by Divine grace. Even 
his knowledge was yet very imperfect. His old superstitious feelings 
remain, though they have received a new object. He thinks Jehovah 
can only be worshipped aright on the soil over which He specially 
ruled. We are not informed whether he was ever fully instructed, or 
whether the germs of intellectual belief implanted in his mind were 
ever changed by the power of the Divine Spirit into saving faith. 
Elisha's answer to the plausible, but really humiliating, plea of 
Naaman throws no light on this point. " Go in peace," was, and is 
still in the East, the ordinary parting salutation. It neither approves 
nor disapproves of Naaman's pleas or plans.' 

The Site of Ebenezer. 

I SAMUEL iv. i : * Now Israel went out against the Philistines to battle, and 
pitched beside Ebenezer : and the Philistines pitched in Aphek.' 

Question. Has it been found possible to recover , with any certainty ', 
// ? precise situation of Ebenezer ? 

Answer. The following suggestions, made by Dr. T. Chaplin^ 
appeared in one of the ' Palestine Exploration Fund ' reports. A 
critical note on the theory, or proposed identification, is added by 
Capt. C. . Conder. 



THE SITE OF EBENEZER. 147 

Many years ago, after considerable study of the subject and 
'epeated examination of the ground, I formed the opinion that the 
place of Ebenezer is now occupied by the village of Beit Iksa, and, 
notwithstanding that another site has been advocated by distinguished 
investigators, I still venture to think that this is the only spot which 
satisfactorily meets all the requirements of the case. 

1. The spot should be ' between Mizpah and Shen,' and, as we 
tnay suppose, be a prominent and conspicuous spot. Such a spot is 
Beit Iksa. Taking Neby Samwil to be Mizpah, and Deir Yesin to 
represent Shen, an examination of the map will show that a line 
drawn from one to the other would intersect this village. It is also 
remarkable that, owing to an opening in the hills, a person standing 
at Deir Yesin and looking towards Neby Samwil has Beit Iksa in full 
view, although at a short distance to the right or left it is not visible 
at all. From many other points it is very conspicuous, owing to its 
position near the summit of a hill abutting on the great valley of Beit 
Hannina, which is there very open. 

2. The locality should be adapted for the camping-ground of a 
large army (i Sam. iv. i), have a supply of water, be easily defensible, 
50 situated as to render communications with the interior of the 
Israelite territory easy, and afford a ready means of retreat in the 
2vent of an unsuccessful battle with the Philistine invaders. All 
;hese characterize the position of Beit Iksa. The hill on which it is 
)uilt is nearly surrounded by deep valleys, whose steep, and in some 
Darts precipitous, sides render the place almost impregnable in that 
direction, whilst a narrow ridge connects it with the only road along 
vhich the Philistines could march to the attack, which road, more- 
over, would expose the flank of the attacking force to an assault from 
;he side of Mizpah. There is some water at the place itself, still 
nore at Neby Samwil, and an unlimited supply at the neighbouring 
buntain of Lifta, which must have been well within the Israelite lines. 

3. There should be in the near neighbourhood some spot meriting 
he name of Aphek, the stronghold, in which the Philistines could 
;ecurely encamp, and from which they could make their attack on 
he Israelite position. Such a spot is Kustul, castellum, which com- 
nands the modern road between Jerusalem and Jaffa. To the north 
>f the miserable hamlet called by this name there is a broad plateau 
vhich affords evidence of having been used for a camping-ground in 
indent times, being still surrounded by the remains of a rampart of 
arge stones. From this position the Philistines could march in great 
security along the summit of the hill, past the site of the present Beit 
Surik, until they came to where Biddu now is, when turning to the 

10 2 



148 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

right they could direct their attack against either Mizpah or an enemy 
on the hill to the south, where Beit Iksa is situated. 

4. The place should be so situated that a runner could reach 
Shiloh from it in a few hours. ' There ran a man of Benjamin out 
of the army and came to Shiloh the same day] bearing news of the 
defeat of the Israelites, and loss of the ark. From Beit Iksa this 
might be accomplished by an eager and active messenger in four 
hours, or less ; the distance being about eighteen miles. From Deir 
Aban Shiloh is eleven or twelve miles further. 

5. Mizpah should be so situated that an attacking force, if badly 
beaten, seized with panic, and thinking only of escape to its own 
territory in the south-western plain, would naturally flee down the 
valley which passes * under Beth Car,' and that the pursuing Israelites, 
especially if they happened to be imperfectly armed (Josephus, 
Ant., 6, 2, 2), would not deem it prudent to follow the fugitives 
further than that. The valley which divides the hill of Beit Surik 
from that on which Beit Iksa stands affords such a means of retreat 
from Neby Samwil, and it was probably down this valley, past 'Am 
el 'Alik and 'Ain Beit Tulma, that the terrified Philistines (2 Sam. vii. 
10, 1 1) reached the great watercourse which they knew would conduct 
them to their own country. Pressed by their pursuers, they would 
rush on by Motza (Kulonieh) under their late camping-ground at 
Aphek, over the boulders and rocks in the bed of the wady, and 
through the olive gardens at its sides, until they came ' under Beth 
Car,' which may be taken to be the village now called 'Ain Karim, 
where their foes would give up the pursuit, lest, becoming entangled 
in the narrow and stony valley, they should expose themselves to 
great risk in the event of the discomfited host rallying and turning 
upon them. 

It may be objected to this identification that Neby Samwil has 
never been proved to be Mizpah, Deir Yesin Shen, or 'Ain Karim 
Beth Car. Yet, when all the circumstances connected with the 
events narrated being taken together support this theory ; when it is 
found that the ancient names of two of the places are still retained 
when it is remembered that the position of Neby Samwil and the 
tradition connecting it with that prophet are by almost all investigator? 
held to favour the supposition that it is Mizpah ; and when it i< 
considered that the identification of each of these four places in <r 
very remarkable manner supports that of the others, there is surely t 
strong presumption that we need go no further in search of the site 
of this famous monument of the last of Israel's Judges. 

It may not be altogether idle to inquire why Samuel placed hi.' 



THE SITE OF EBENEZER. 149 

memorial * between Mizpah and Shen ' instead of at Mizpah. The 
latter was not only a very conspicuous spot, as its name implies, but 
it was also a seat of government, and a centre of the religious life of 
the people. It was not to Shiloh, where the Tabernacle was, but to 
Mizpah that Samuel gathered all Israel and drew water and poured it 
out before the Lord and prayed to the Lord for them. Perhaps the 
answer to such an inquiry is, that he placed his monument where the 
ark of God had once stood. We are taught in the second Book of 
the Chronicles (viii. n), that a place whereunto the ark of the Lord 
had come was regarded as holy, and what more natural, after the 
signal deliverance which had been experienced, than that the great 
ruler and guide of the nation should erect ' the stone of help ' upon 
the spot once sanctified by the sacred emblem of the Divine strength ? 
Josephus tells us the stone was called /<r%upo?, the stone of strength' 
In Psalm Ixxviii. 61, we have, 'And delivered his strength (i.e., the 
ark) into captivity ;' and again in 2 Chron. vi. 41, ' Arise, O Lord 
God, into Thy resting-place, Thou and the ark of Thy strength / in 
the Septuagint, ^ xifSuroc T^S Iffyjjpoc. cw. If the memorial came to be 
called in late times by its Greek name, it is not impossible that in 
Iksa, a word the derivation of which no one seems to know, we have 
a corruption of ischuros, like Amwas of Emmaus, Nablus of Neapolis. 
I have heard the place called Beit Iska, and a Mohammedan sheikh 
once told me that that is the right name. The point is not of 
importance. The tendency of the Arabs to transpose consonants is 
well known. 

It would seem that this idea of Ebenezer having marked the place 
on which the ark was once set, misled Eusebius and his translator 
into supposing that the monument occupied the spot to which the 
Philistines brought back the ark. It is needless to say that there is 
no indication of this in the Bible ; and it may reasonably be supposed 
that if Samuel had erected his trophy at Bethshemesh, or in the field 
of Joshua the Bethshemite, the narrative would have said so. 

I have often questioned with myself whether these struggles with 
the Philistines did not (as some seem to suppose) take place nearer 
to the Philistine frontier than Neby Samwil and Beit Iksa are. But 
I find no confirmation of this suggestion in the sacred text. Other 
important battles against the same foes took place still further in the 
heart of the Israelite country, as at Michmash and on Mount Gilboa. 

Note by Capt. C. R. Conder. Dr. Chaplin having kindly sent me 
the proof of his paper on Ebenezer, I have only one or two remarks 
to offer on the subject. 



150 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

I do not hold it to be proved that Deir Aban is Ebenezer, but, as 
I have pointed out in the ' Memoirs,' Deir Aban is the place which 
Jerome supposed to be Ebenezer. It is quite possible that Jerome 
was wrong in this as in other cases. The site of Mizpah is uncertain, 
as it may be either at Neby Samwil, or perhaps at Shaf at. The 
identity of Shen and Deir Yasin seems to me doubtful, because 
names with Deir preceding are usually of Christian origin. 'Am 
Karim is, I believe, the Biblical Beth Haccerem, but it might be Beth 
Car also. On two occasions I have searched the country south of 
Neby Samwil, hoping to find some monument such as Ebenezer, but 
we never found anything of the kind. I agree with Dr. Chaplin, 
however, in thinking that the distance from Deir Aban to Shiloh is 
an objection to the fourth century traditional site. 

David's Introduction to Saul's Court. 

I SAMUEL xvi. 21 : 'And David came to Saul, and stood before him ; and he 
loved him greatly ; and he became his armour-bearer.' 

Difficulty. As Saul had personal knowledge of, and interest t/i, 
David, his settlement at court could not have preceded the introduction of 
David to Saul after the slaughter of Goliath. 

Explanation. It is not possible, with any amount of ingenuity, 
to fit into a natural historical order the earliest records concerning 
David. We have to bear in mind that the historical books of 
Scripture are compilations of fragments, and chronological considera- 
tions do not seem to have controlled the placing of them together. 
One account seems to deal with David's visits to the court as a 
minstrel, but how this stands related to the slaughter of Goliath, 
which another fragment makes David's earliest introduction to Saul, 
does not appear. In these cases it is altogether better to deal 
honestly with the records, and admit confusion of the accounts, the 
earlier including relations to the king and court, which, in actual fact, 
occurred later on. 

If an attempt might be made to put the passages in chronological 
order, we should say that the minstrelsy of David at the court 
belongs to a period some years preceding the conflict with Goliath, 
and that David was then quite a youth. While a minstrel only 
David may not have come into personal contact with the king ; and 
the verse heading this paragraph represents the response to a request 
made of Jesse for David's entire service at the court. This request 
was made after the victory over Goliath ; then it was that Saul became 
personally attached to David, and made him his armour-bearer. The 



DAVID'S INTRODUCTION TO SAUL'S COURT. 151 

narrative of the seventeenth chapter is omitted from the earlier 
fragment, and consequently ch. xviii. 2 repeats the fact, presented 
under differing circumstances in ch. xvi. 22, that David became 
permanently attached to the court. 

We then have the following order : David called to court occa- 
sionally as a minstrel. Saul's mental condition improved for a 
time. David returned to his shepherding. Some years pass without 
need for calling David, and he is quite forgotten. Incident of 
Goliath. David not recognised by the officers, because much changed 
in appearance. After the victory inquiries are made, and David 
reminds the king who he is, by saying, ' I am the son of Jesse,' 
evidently meaning, 'the son of Jesse whom, you remember, once 
played for you in your illness.' This wakening of recollections made 
Saul resolve to have David with him permanently at court, so he 
became first one of the king's armour-bearers, and then was gradually 
advanced until he reached some of the chief places of trust and 
honour in the army. 

It may not be wise to assert that this is the order of events ; but 
it may be said that this is a reasonable and natural order, and may 
be maintained without doing any violence to the records, as we have 
them preserved in the Word. 

R. F. Norton regards the narrative which is now before us as a 
proof that the author of the Books of Samuel had before him two 
different accounts. He says : ' Reading the account of David's 
introduction to Saul in i Sam. xvi., we first of all hear of Samuel 
anointing David at Bethlehem ; then at ch. xvi. 18, David is brought 
before the king as not only " cunning in playing," but " a mighty 
man of valour and a man of war." He stands before Saul because 
he has found favour in the king's sight. Then in ch. xvii. we are 
surprised to meet with David as a mere shepherd lad coming up 
from the country to the army, slaying Goliath, and so being intro- 
duced to Saul for the first time. In fact, as he goes out to the combat, 
Saul sends Abner to inquire who he is ; and in consequence of this 
episode the young man is enlisted in the king's service. Now there 
cannot be any reasonable doubt that this confusion arises from the 
existence of two accounts of David's first introduction to Saul. 
According to the one, he was sought out in Saul's mental distress as 
a cunning player on the harp. According to the other, he attracted 
the king's attention by an act of heroic valour in the army. So 
distinct are these accounts, that even in the welded narrative, it is 
quite easy to separate them. Read ch. xvi. 14-33 an ^ tnen g on at 
ch. xviii. 6, and you see you have a straightforward narrative : the 



152 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

section ch. xvii-xviii. 5 appears plainly as a separate piece coming no 
doubt from a separate source.' 

Edersheim reminds us that the credit of being ' a mighty, valiant 
man, and a man of war,' need only refer to his recognised fearlessness 
and prowess as a shepherd. David could have had no experience of 
actual warfare, with national enemies, save through connection with 
Saul's armies. Edersheim remarks : ' David, who had never been 
permanently in Saul's service, had, on the outbreak of war, returned 
to his home.' And he makes the following contribution to the 
solution of the difficulty which is being treated in this paragraph : 
'There is considerable difficulty about the text as it now stands. 
That the narrative is strictly historical cannot be doubted. But, on 
the other hand, verses 12-14, and still more verses 55-58, read as if 
the writer had inserted this part of his narrative from some other 
source, perhaps from a special chronicle of the event. The LXX. 
solve the difficulty by simply leaving out verses 12-31, and again 
verses 55-58 ; that is, they boldly treat that part as an interpolation ; 
and it must be confessed that the narrative reads easier without it. 
And yet, on the other hand, if these verses are interpolated, the 
work has been clumsily done ; and it is not easy to see how any 
interpolator would not at once have seen the difficulties he created, 
especially by the addition of verses 55-58. Besides, the account in 
verses 12-31, not only fits in very well with the rest of the narrative 
bating some of the expressions in verses 12-14 but also bears the 
evident impress of truthfulness. The drastic method in which the 
LXX. dealt with the text, so early as about two centuries before 
Christ, at least proves that, even at that time, there were strong 
doubts about the genuineness of the text. All this leads to the 
suggestion, that somehow the text may have become corrupted, and 
that later copyists may have tried emendations and additions, by way 
of removing difficulties, which, as might be expected in such a case, 
would only tend to increase them. On the whole, therefore, we are 
inclined to the opinion that, while the narrative itself is strictly 
authentic, the text, as we possess it, is seriously corrupted in some of 
the expressions, especially in the concluding verses of the chapter. 
At the same time it should be added, that its correctness has been 
defended by very able critics.' 

We naturally turn to Josephus, to see what help he can give us 
in arranging the story. And it is plain that the materials at his com- 
mand were the same as those with which we have to deal ; but he 
seems not to have before him the confusing conversation between 
Saul and Abner, given in verses 55-58, and so he does not feel our 



DAVID'S INTRODUCTION TO SAUL'S COURT. 153 

difficulty. His record may not be at the ready command of our 
readers, and we give it as showing that a consecutive story can be 
reasonably constructed from the record, as we have it. On the 
recommendation of the court physicians, ' Saul did not delay, but 
commanded them to seek out a skilful harper ; and when a certain 
stander-by said he had seen in the city of Bethlehem a son of Jesse, 
who was yet no more than a child in age, but comely and beautiful, 
and in other respects one that was deserving of great regard, who 
was skilful in playing on the harp, and in singing of hymns (and an 
excellent soldier in war), he sent to Jesse, and desired him to take 
David away from the flocks, and send him to him, for he had a mind 
to see him, as having heard an advantageous character of his comeli- 
ness and his valour. So Jesse sent his son, and gave him presents 
to carry to Saul ; and when he was come, Saul was pleased with him, 
and made him his armour-bearer, and had him in very great esteem. 
. . . He sent to Jesse, the father of the child, and desired him to 
permit David to stay with him, for that he was delighted with his 
sight and company, which stay, that he might not contradict Saul, he 
granted.' * Now, while this war with the Philistines was going on, 
Saul sent away David to his father Jesse.' Then follows an account 
of the battle with Goliath, in which Josephus assumes that David was 
quite well-known to Saul, who was anxious for the safety of one whom 
he cared for ; and the first sign of jealousy Josephus associates with 
the unwise ascription of chief merit to David ; and he adds : ' Accord- 
ingly, he removed David from the station he was in before, for he 
was his armour-bearer, which, out of fear, seemed to him much too 
near a station for him ; and so he made him a captain over a thousand, 
and bestowed on him a post better, indeed, in itself, but, as he 
thought, more for his own security ; for he had a mind to send him 
against the enemy, and into battles, as hoping he would be slain in 
such dangerous conflicts.' 

Canon Spence gives the explanation which is likely to commend 
itself more and more to thoughtful students. It sustains the 
suggestions given above. ' The real solution of the difficulty probably 
lies in the fact that this and the other historical books of the Old 
Testament were made up by the inspired compiler from well- 
authenticated traditions current in Israel, and most probably pre- 
served in the archives of the great prophetic schools.' (May we not 
rather think, preserved in unwritten form, as ' Folklore ' ? Ed. J3.D.} 
' There were, no doubt, many of these traditions connected with the 
principal events of David's early career. Two here were selected 
which, to a certain extent, covered the same ground. ... As for the 



154 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

great love of the king, and position of royal armour-bearer, these 
things we have little doubt came to David after the victory over the 
giant Philistine, and very likely, indeed, in consequence of it.' 

The Stronghold of Zion. 

2 SAMUEL v. 7 : ' Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion ; the same is 
the city of David.' 

Question. Have rece?it researches brought to light any relics of 
this very interesting fortress ? 

Answer. Josephus gives a magnificent account of the defences of 
the city, natural and artificial, in his day, and specially at or about this 
point. The first of its three walls ran round the summit of Mount 
Zion. It had sixty towers. ' The largeness of the stones,' he says, 
4 in three of these was wonderful.' They were white marble (mt'zzey), 
27 feet long, by 10 feet broad, and 5 feet deep. 

In 1874, Mr. Henry Maudslay, following the former work of Sir 
Charles Warren, fully explored and laid bare the rock foundation of 
this wall on the south-west brow of Mount Zion, in all probability the 
famous Jebusite fortress, ' the stronghold of Zion.' It proved, indeed, 
a magnificent natural fastness, rendered by human art practically 
impregnable. The limestone crag at this point appeared as a per- 
pendicular scarp that is, cut smooth and straight as a wall to an 
average height of 30 feet, as far as the Turkish authorities would 
allow him to lay it bare,- a distance of some hundred and thirty yards. 
A base of a huge tower was exposed to view, in the shape of a pro- 
jecting buttress 45 feet square, also scarped that is, cut straight 
as a wall. Thirty-six steps were seen cut in the face of this rock wall 
for the purpose of ascending to the top of a second smaller projecting 
square buttress, the base of a second tower. The bases of three 
towers were found to contain no less than eighteen beers, or water- 
cisterns, hewn in the rock. These ' cisterns to receive rain-water,' 
and these ' steps ' are specially described by Josephus. A number 
of fallen stones, from three to four feet long, were found at the 
bottom with marks indicating Roman work. A ditch 20 feet wide 
was found at the foot of this scarp with a steep rough rock slope 
below, and, in one place at least, a second deeper scarp beneath the 
other, giving a rock-cut perpendicular face of some 50 feet in 
height. 

This rock-cut scarp thus exposed, and which, if the authorities had 
not interfered, would doubtless have been traced round much of the 
city, must have formed part of the lofty, immovable foundation upon 



THE STRONGHOLD OF ZION. 155 

which the mighty wall Josephus describes was reared. Towers of 
amazing strength, relative to ancient weapons and engines of attack, 
must once have stood out on the projecting buttress-like bases. But 
not one stone of these remains upon another. Well has Captain 
Conder, R.E., pointed out that this scarp is peculiarly 'valuable as 
showing that, however the masonry may have been destroyed or 
lost, we may yet hope to find indications of the ancient enceinte 
(boundary wall) in the rock scarps which are imperishable.' (Pales- 
tine Exploration Reports.} 

Sir J. W. Dawson gives a sketch of the position of Jerusalem, as 
seen by the geologist, which enables us to realize the situation, the 
relations, and the importance, of the ' stronghold of Zion.' At ' Jeru- 
salem we are on the summit of the ridge separating the Mediterranean 
slope from the more abrupt descent to the Dead Sea and the Jordan 
Valley. The surface of the Dead Sea is 1,292 feet below the level of 
the Mediterranean, while Jerusalem is 2,590 feet above that level, 
and consequently no less than 3,880 feet above the great depression 
which lies to the east of it. The city occupies a little promontory, 
connected on the north with the main table-land of the summit of 
the hills, and separated, on the east and west, by deep valleys from 
the neighbouring eminences. The promontory itself is divided by a 
furrow, the Tyropean Valley, into two unequal portions, so that it 
may be compared to a cloven hoof, with one toe longer than the 
other. The longer or western toe, separated from the adjoining hills 
by the Gihon or Hinnom Valley, is that which is usually identified 
with the ancient Zion, and on which the greater part of the city now 
stands, and its southern part must have been the site of the old 
Jebusite town, which was so strong that it retained its independence 
till the time of David. The smaller, or eastern toe, separated by the 
deep Kedron Valley from the Mount of Olives, is that of Moriah 
and Ophel, and on it stands the quarter known as Bezetha, and the 
great area of the Mosque of Omar, once the site of Solomon's 
Temple. 

' Geologically, Jerusalem is on the eastern side of the ridge of the 
hill country, for the beds underlying it all dip eastward. This com- 
manding position accounts for its importance as an ancient Amorite 
stronghold, and also for its selection by David as his capital. The 
geologist, on inspecting such a site, at once thinks of its original con- 
dition, and of the causes of the features which it presents. The 
former is not difficult to realize, for though there has been some filling 
of hollows with debris and some scarping and walling up of slopes, 
the relief of the surface is too decided to be easily obscured, and the 



156 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

excavations of Colonel Warren and his colleagues have sounded the 
depths of most of the masses of rubbish. The clue to the latter is 
most easily to be found in the dip of the rock, as seen in the great 
quarries and excavations in the eastern ridge, which show that we 
have a general easterly dip, and consequently an ascending series 
from Zion to the Mount of Olives, the outcropping edges of the 
harder beds forming the ridges, and the cutting out of the soft layers 
producing the valleys. The rock of the western or Zion Hill is a 
hard, reddish and gray limestone, much used for building and paving 
stones, and capable of taking a good polish. It is called Misie stone 
that is, hard or resisting.' 

It is necessary to refer briefly to the theory, advocated by Mr. 
Ferguson, in Smith's ' Dictionary of the Bible,' that the evidence of 
the Old Testament distinctly leads to the identification of Zion with 
the eastern hill, on which the Temple stood. According to this view, 
the fortress captured by David occupied the northern part of the 
ridge, on which the Temple was afterwards built. Though this 
theory does certainly relieve some difficulties, it has not found 
general acceptance. 

Under Saws and Harrows. 

2 SAMUEL xii. 31 :' And he brought forth the people that were therein, and 
put them under saws, and under harrows of iron, and under axes of iron, and made 
them pass through the brick-kiln ; and thus did he unto all the cities of the children 
of Ammon.' (Marg. : ' made them labour at.') 

Difficulty. // does not seem clear whether these terms mean modes 
of execution, or merely the punishment of subjection to hard forms of 
labour. 

Explanation. The answering passage, i Chron. xx. 3, reads as 
follows, and the Revisers propose no alteration in it : ' And he 
brought out the people that were in it, and cut them with saws, and 
with harrows of iron, and with axes.' If the passage in Samuel may 
refer to 'slavish labour,' that in Chronicles certainly suggests 'torture.' 
Mercifulness in dealing with conquered enemies is quite a Western 
and Christian idea. It is a surprise to Easterns even in these days. 
We need not suppose that David rose superior to the common senti- 
ments of his country and his times, and we should take due account 
of the fact that the Ammonites had offered a peculiarly unbearable 
insult in their treatment of David's ambassadors. 

G. D. Copeland thinks that the sense of these passages is met if 
we only understand that David condemned the Ammonites to 
rigorous and painful toil. ' The English Version is, on the whole, 



UNDER SA WS AND HARROWS. 157 

excellent, and has been honoured of God as no other. Yet the 
English Version is not an inspired translation, though the translation 
of an inspired original. Now it so happens that the original here is 
susceptible of a different rendering to that given in our translation ; 
thus, instead of under saws and harrows, the word may be equally 
unto saws and harrows. This would imply only that David made 
slaves of his captives, reduced them to penal servitude, and made of 
them sawyers and so forth. Further, the word translated harrows of 
iron may also be rendered iron mines, implying that David put his 
captives to work in the mines. And again, the Hebrew word trans- 
lated " cut them " with saws, in Chronicles, is almost exactly the same 
as that rendered put in Samuel, and is capable of the same interpre- 
tation, and, indeed, the majority of the Hebrew MSS. have the very 
word which means, " he put them to saws." ' 

While we would gladly relieve the records of David's life of such 
inhumanities as are suggested by the Authorised Version, we fear 
that the older view of our text must be regarded as the true one. 
The latest writers are obliged to recognise in it descriptions of tor- 
turing and degrading modes of capital punishment in accordance 
with the spirit and sentiment of the age. We may helpfully set 
together the views of the passage taken by leading Bible writers. 

Cambridge Bible (A. R Kirkpatrick, ALA.) : ' " Put them upon 
saws," or perhaps we should read as in Chronicles, " Sawed them with 
saws." This barbarous practice was not unknown at .Rome. See 
Heb. xi. 37. " Threshing-sledges of iron." Sledges or frames armed 
on the underside with rollers or sharp spikes used for the purpose of 
bruising the ears of corn and extracting the grain, and at the same 
time breaking up the straw into small pieces for use as fodder. 
" Burned them in brick-kilns." The phrase is chosen with reference 
to the idolatrous rite practised by the Ammonites of " making their 
children pass through the fire " in honour of Moloch. These cruel 
punishments must be judged according to the standard of the age in 
which they were inflicted, not by the light of Christian civilization. 
The Ammonites were evidently a savage and brutal nation (i Sam. 
xi. i, 2 ; 2 Sam. x. 1-5 ; Amos i. 13), and in all probability they were 
treated no worse than they were accustomed to treat others. It was 
the age of retaliation, when the law of " like for like " the lex talionis 
prevailed (Judg. i. 7 ; Lev. xxiv. 19, 20). They had foully insulted 
David, and it is not to be wondered at if he was provoked into 
making a signal example of them by this severity. In this respect 
he did not rise above the level of his own age. Modern history has 
its parallels, not only in the barbarities perpetrated at Alengon by a 



158 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

ruthless soldier like William the Conqueror, but in the merciless 
massacre by which the Black Prince sullied his fair fame on the 
capture of Limoges.' 

Ellicotfs Commentary (Dr. F. Gardiner] takes the view that tortures 
are referred to, and says : ' In the infliction of these cruelties on his 
enemies, David acted in accordance with the customs and the know- 
ledge of his time. Abhorrent as they may be to the spirit of Chris- 
tianity, David and his contemporaries took them as matters of course, 
without a suspicion that they were not in accordance with God's 
will.' 

Ewald writes thus : ' The captive warriors of this and the other 
cities of the country David punished with great severity on account 
of the original cause which had led to the war. He mangled them 
with saws, iron flails, and iron-shearing machines, or roasted them in 
burning kilns.' 

Dean Stanley makes the following reference : ' The expressions 
agree well with the cruel extermination of the conquered inhabitants 
by fire and by strange and savage tortures a vengeance to be 
accounted for, not excused, by the formidable resistance of the 
besieged.' 

Wordsworth says of the severer reading of the text : * This seems 
to be the right interpretation, though controverted by some.' And 
he refers to Keil and Kitto. 

Speaker's Commentary (Bishop Heruey} has this note : ' The cruelty 
of these executions belongs to the barbarous manners of the age, and 
was provoked by the conduct of the Ammonites.' 

Critical Commentary (Jamieson] brings out another point : ' This 
excessive severity and employment of tortures, which the Hebrews 
on no other occasion are recorded to have practised, was an act of 
retributive justice on a people who were infamous for their 
cruelties.' 

Kitto gives the milder view,. but is not able to accept it as the 
correct one : ' The common, and as it seems to us the true, interpre- 
tation is, that they were put to deaths of torture. We would very 
gladly, were it in our power, agree with Dantz, who, followed by 
Delany, Chandler, and other writers, contends that David merely 
condemned his Ammonitish captives to severe bodily labours, to 
hewing and sawing wood, to burning of bricks, and to working in 
iron mines. But this interpretation has little real foundation. It 
does much violence to the Hebrew words, which it takes in an un- 
usual and previously unimagined acceptation.' See ' Biblical Diffi- 
culties,' Series I., p. 316. 



SUMMAR Y AND RE VIE W OF SECTION. 1 5 9 
SUMMARY AND REVIEW OF SECTION. 

THE PECULIARITIES OF THE OLD TESTAMENT HISTORIES. 

In an article by Professor William R. Harper, Ph.D., contributed 
o the American Sunday School Times, the points of chief interest 
:onnected with the Bible histories are carefully treated, with corn- 
Detent knowledge, and in a liberal spirit. Dr. Harper's conclusions 
tfill commend themselves to all earnest and devout students who are 
milling to learn what the Bible really is, and cannot be satisfied with 
my decision beforehand as to what man thinks God's Bible for the 
-ace ought to be. A critical examination of the actual contents of the 
Old Testament, and a scientific attempt to discover the original 
naterial, and to trace the processes of compilation and of editing, 
ire quite consistent with a reverent love for God's Word, and a 
devout recognition of its inspiration as the world's rule of faith and 
norals. What is needed is that the critical study of Holy Scripture 
should be undertaken by godly and devout men, who will honestly 
x>int out what can be known, and will jealously preserve all that can 
)e honestly maintained. That which is ' of God ' even adverse and 
)ver-confident criticisms cannot overthrow. 

Professor Harper notices that : 

i. There is in many portions of the historical books a lack of 
:hronological order. The writer does not always feel it incumbent 
ipon him to describe the events in the order in which they took 
)lace. (i) Judg. xii. 8-15 covers a period from the death of Jeph- 
hah to the death of Abdon ; but this overlaps chs. xiii.-xvi., the 
;tory of Samson, while the story of Samson reaches down into the 
)eriod covered by i Sam. i.-vi. (2) 2 Sam. xxi. i-n, which de- 
;cribes a three years' famine, because of Saul's massacre of the 
jibeonites, and the execution of Saul's sons, does not follow ch. xx., 
)ut belongs, without doubt, before the rebellion of Absalom (chs. 
cv.-xviii.) ; for in 2 Sam. xvi. 7, 8 ; xix. 28 we find references to 
hese events. (3) 2 Sam. xxii., David's thanksgiving for deliverance 
rom Saul, belongs, of course, to the early period of his life. (4) 
2 Sam. xxiii. 8-39, David's heroes and their exploits, is found in 
c Chron. xi. 11-41, after the account of David's becoming king. (5) 
2 Sam. vi. : the removal of the ark, is by some (Professor Beecher, in 
: Old Testament Student,' vol. vii., p. 61 et seq.} regarded as having 
:aken place after, not before, the sin with Bathsheba (ch. xi.). (6) 



160 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

The chapters of Isaiah which are connected with that memorable 
year 701, the year of Sennacherib's invasion, are as follows : i. (?) ; 
x. 5 to xii. 6; xiv. 24-27; xvii. 12-14; xviii. 33, 36, 37. (7) The 
chapters of Jeremiah which belong to the reign of Jehoiakim are 
vii.-x., xxvi., xiv., xv., xviii., xix., xxv., xxxv., xlvi.-xlix., xxxvi. ; while 
those of the period of Jehoiaqhin and Zedekiah are xiii., 1., li., xxvii.- 
xxix. ; xxi., xxii., xxiii., xxiv., xxxiv., xxxvii., xxxviii., xxx., xxxi., xxxii., 
xxxiii., xxxix., Hi. (though some of these may possibly better be as- 
signed to another period). 

Other examples might be cited, but these are sufficient to show 
that the arrangement of matter which has come down to us, whatever 
may have been its origin, is in many cases not a chronological one. 
Now, either (i) the writer made an effort to put the matter in chrono- 
logical order and failed ; or (2) the original writer placed it in such 
order, but later copyists have disarranged it ; or (3) the writer made 
no particular effort to secure a chronological order. In the case of 
the Book of Judges, the supposition that no effort was made to 
secure this order is strengthened by the fact that in the enumeration 
of periods, seven, twenty, forty, and eighty occur so frequently 
' numerals which have the appearance of round numbers, rather than 
exact dates.' 

2. There is found in many portions either no chronological indica- 
tion, or at best a very defective one ; that is, the text is not careful to 
point out the time when or during which the events described in it 
took place. Still further, what seems to be the meaning of the text 
is sometimes discovered from other portions of Scripture, or from 
outside sources, to be incorrect, (i) The fact that there have been 
proposed more than fifty ways of explaining the chronology of the 
Book of Judges would indicate that the chronological data of the 
book were, to say the least, defective. (2) It is only by the com- 
parison of several passages that one discovers that Samson's great 
exploits were performed after the death of Eli, and just before 
Samuel's reformation. (3) At the time of Saul's election he was a 
young man. Chs. ix. and x. (i Sam.) tell of his choice by Samuel 
and the people ; ch. xi. tells of his victory over Ammon, which 
immediately followed ; ch. xii. of Samuel's farewell address at the age 
of seventy; while in ch. xiii., which to all appearances, follows at 
once, Saul has a son Jonathan old enough to command a division of 
the army. We must suppose that the first period of his reign (per- 
haps ten or fifteen years) is passed over in silence (between chs. ix and 
xiii.). (4) One would scarcely suppose that a period of twenty years 
elapsed between verses 37 and 38 of Isaiah xxxvii. ; yet such is the 



SUMMAR Y AND RE VIE W OF SECTION. 1 6 1 

case. (5) The great doubt as to the duration of the nation's stay in 
Egypt whether 430 or 230 years is due to the lack of clearness in 
the indication of chronological data. (6) It is not told us how 
long Samuel judged, or how long his sons were judges. (7) While 
the prophecies of Ezekiel are in nearly every case clearly and definitely 
located, so far as concerns the time of their utterance, and while 
those of Jeremiah are frequently so designated, Isaiah's material is 
in the majority of instances left in great doubt, the order and position 
having often to be determined solely by internal evidence. (8) The 
lack of any direct statement in reference to the date of Joel, though 
the book abounds in historical material as distinguished from the 
prophetic, has left its position to be determined wholly by internal 
evidence. (9) All are familiar with the difficulties which are con- 
nected with the question of Solomon's age when he ascended the 
throne, and with the exact chronology of the kings Uzziah, Jotham, 
Ahaz, and Hezekiah, as indeed of many others of Israel's and Judah's 
kings. 

It is quite certain, therefore, that, in striking contrast with the 
habit of some writers for example, Ezekiel, Haggai, Zechariah 
many of the Old Testament writers seem to have cared little about 
giving such statements as would have made the time of writings and 
events certain. In other words, there are in certain periods few, if 
any, indications of chronology. If it is asked whether, in the absence 
of such data, there is evidence of some other system of arrangement, 
it may be answered that in some cases for example, 2 Sam. xxii. 24 
the material seems to have been roughly thrown together in the 
form of an appendix. In others, as in the arrangement of the 
prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah, no particular system has as yet 
been discovered. 

3. In reading these various histories, one is frequently struck with 
the incompleteness, the fragmentary character, of the narratives. 
This is something different from that brevity of statement for which 
the sacred writers are so justly praised. It is rather the omission of 
what seem to us to be important facts ; and these omitted facts are, 
in some cases certainly, necessary to any full or satisfactory under- 
standing of the matter in hand, looked at from an historical point of 
view. Their omission, indeed, gives an impression which is some- 
times entirely wrong. (i) In the story of Saul's reign we have, 
according to the best interpretation of the material, no record of the 
first ten or fifteen years : the impression produced by the narrative is 
that Saul disobeys Samuel, and comes into conflict with him almost 
immediately after his appointment When, however, we discover 

n 



i6 2 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

that this long period has been omitted, the whole case becomes more 
intelligible, and the development of the evil side of Saul's nature is 
explained. (2) Jonathan, as will be remembered, suddenly appears 
as the leader of a part of the army, though no mention of him had 
before been made in any connection. (3) From a strictly historical 
point of view, one is scarcely satisfied to find the writer of 2 Samuel, 
after furnishing such minute details of every other part of David's 
life, omitting any reference to his jdeath ; nor is this feeling changed 
when we find the death recorded in two verses in i Kings. (4) 
Jehoshaphat's war with Moab and Ammon (2 Chron. xx.) is passed 
without mention by the writer of Kings ; nor is anything said of 
Uzziah's victories over the Philistines, or of Manasseh's capture by 
Assyria. (5) Shishak's capture of Jerusalem, a most important event, 
receives only two verses (i Kings xiv. 25, 26) ; Abijam's war with 
Jeroboam, one (i Kings xv. 6) ; Josiah's contest with Pharaoh-Necho, 
one of the most critical in sacred history, only one (2 Kings xxiii. 
29). (6) The writer or compiler of Chronicles thought it un- 
necessary, or foreign to his purpose, to make any mention of (a) the 
reign of David at Hebron, or the civil war between David and Saul's 
house (2 Sam. i.-iv.) \ (/>) David's adultery and punishment (2 Sam. xi., 
xii.); (c) Absalom's vengeance upon his brother and his rebellion 
(2 Sam. xiii.-xx.), together with several other matters of minor import- ( 
ance. One feels that an account of David's life, with the story of 
Bathsheba and the consequences of that crime omitted, is exceeding 
fragmentary and incomplete. (7) The writer of Samuel has also 
omitted many facts, a knowledge of which is essential to any just 
comprehension of the history of religious worship in the time of 
David and Solomon (i Chron. xiii. 1-5 ; xv., xvi., xxii., xxiii.-xxvii., 
xxviii., xxix.). (8) In the story of Jonah, which, after all, must be 
taken along with the Elijah and Elisha stories as historical, and not, 
with many modern critics, as fiction or allegory, one searches in vain 
for (a) the location of Jonah's abode, (b) the spot where he was 
vomited up, (c) an account of his long, wearisome journey to Nineveh, 
(d) the name of the Assyrian king, (e) his fate after his rebuke by 
God, (/) his subsequent relations to Nineveh. 

These are but a few of the more striking omissions omissions 
which leave us in greater or less confusion of mind. It may be said 
this is only the result of the brief and condensed method which the 
writer was compelled to adopt ; a book which covers so much ground 
must, in places, be fragmentary and incomplete. This is true ; but 
notice must also be taken of the fact that the Old Testament, brief 
as it is, contains a great many repetitions ; for example, (a) of the 



SUMMAR Y AND REVIE W OF SECTION. 163 

account of the tabernacle in Exodus ; () and of the laws in Exodus, 
Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy ; (c] of the history of David 
and the later kings in Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles ; (d) David's 
thanksgiving (2 Sam. xxii. ; Psa. xviii.); (e) the historical portions of 
Isaiah (Isa. xxxvi.-xxxix. ; 2 Kings xviii.-xx.). And, in view of these 
repetitions, one, speaking now wholly from the historical standpoint, 
could wish that the space taken up by them had been used in pre- 
senting other matters from which something of interest might have 
been gained in reference to the subject in hand. 

4. Something distinct from this is seen in the emphasis laid upon 
certain special items selected from what must have been a large 
number, the remainder being entirely omitted, or passed over very 
lightly, (i) In Judges, five chapters are given to Gideon with his 
son, four to Samson, two each to Jephthah, Micah the Danite, and 
the outrage at Gibeah. Five subjects thus take fifteen out of twenty 
chapters in a book covering 300 years. (2) In i Samuel, ten 
(i Sam", xviii. 10 to xxvii. 12) out of thirty-one chapters (nearly one- 
third) are given to the persecution of David by Saul, and the former's 
wanderings in the wilderness as an outlaw ; Saul's reign, outside of 
this, receiving only five chapters (i Sam. xiii.-xvii.), unless we include 
the story of the Witch of Endor (i Sam. xxviii.) and the battle of 
Gilboa (i Sam. xxxi.). (3) It is worthy of note that the story of the 
Witch of Endor takes twenty-five verses, the plunder of Ziklag by 
David thirty-one ; while the battle of Gilboa, including the account 
of the defeat of the army, the death of Saul and Jonathan, the 
treatment of their bodies, the heroic rescue and burial by the men of 
Jabesh-Gilead, is given in thirteen verses. (4) In 2 Samuel, David's 
reign at Hebron and the civil war with Saul's house take four chapters, 
yet this is altogether omitted by the writer of Chronicles. David's 
adultery and punishment, the latter including Absalom's rebellion, 
take ten chapters, nearly one-half of the book ; this also is omitted 
by the writer of the Chronicles. (5) The twenty-four chapters of 
2 Samuel with the last chapter of i Samuel cover the same historical 
ground taken up in i Chronicles x. -xxix. ; that is, nineteen chapters. 
Of the twenty-five Samuel chapters, about nine (counting roughly) 
are found in Chronicles ; of the nineteen Chronicles chapters, about 
eight are found in Samuel. In other words, two writers preparing a 
history of the same period, employing for the most part the same 
sources, using in many passages the same language, differ so much 
from each other that the matter possessed in common amounts, in 
one case, to a little more than one-third of his material ; in the other, 
to a little less than one-half. (6) Of the forty-seven chapters of 

IT 2 



1 64 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES 

Kings which cover the period 1015-562 B.C., about 450 years, (a) 
nearly one-fourth (eleven chapters) is given to the first forty years 
(the reign of Solomon) ; (b) about one-fifth (nine chapters) is given 
to the narratives of Elijah and Elisha ; (c) the division of the kingdom, 
the most important event in Israelitish history after the Exodus, is 
treated in twenty-four verses, the story of the man of God in thirty- 
two ; (d) the history of twenty-five kings and queens, from Albatiah 
(query, Ahaziah) to Zedekiah, and from Jehu to Joash (query, Josiah), 
including the account of the destruction of both kingdoms the 
history of two nations for 322 years is given in fourteen chapters, 
only one-half more than the number of chapters given to Elijah and 
Elisha, one-fourth more than the number given to Solomon. 

Many more facts similar to these might be cited ; but these are 
sufficient to show that proportion in treatment at least, the proportion 
which would be observed by a modern historian is not found in the 
sacred histories. There are, of course, reasons for all this, and these 
reasons should be carefully considered. 

5. A careful study of the principal books Samuel, Kings, and 
Chronicles reveals still another important characteristic connected 
with their origin ; namely, that they are the work of compilation. 
The author compiled the material from several writings, and, as 
Professor Beecher has said (* Old Testament Student/ vol. vii., p. 25) : 
* Instead of reading these writings, and remembering their contents, 
and stating them in his own language, as most modern writers would 
do, he did his work of compilation largely by the process of tran- 
scribing sections of earlier works.' The evidence of this fact is very 
abundant, and the fact is so well known and generally accepted that 
it need hardly be enlarged upon. (i) A comparison of parallel 
passages in Samuel or Kings and Chronicles shows the method of the 
author; for example, 2 Kings xiv. 17-22 with 2 Chronicles xxv. 25 
to xxvi. i : ' The transcribed portions the author of Chronicles 
commonly abbreviates and renders more fluent by dropping words 
and changing phrases. Occasionally he adds a fact or a comment, 
often in Hebrew, that is linguistically quite different from the tran- 
scribed portions.' (2) The books themselves tell us in many instances 
that the material has been taken from some particular source, and 
give in detail the title of the source. For such references see 
i Chron. xxix. 29; xxvii. 24; 2 Chron. xii. 15; xiii. 22; xx. 
34; xxvi. 22; xxxii. 32; xxxiii. 18, 19. (3) Still farther, there is 
evidence that Samuel, Gad, and Nathan left behind them works of 
some kind, to which we are largely indebted for the Books of 
Samuel ; for passages which show Gad and Nathan to have been in 



SUMMAR Y AND RE VIE W OF SECTION. 165 

close communication with David, see i Sam. xxii. 5 ; 2 Sam. vii. 2, 3 ; 
xii. i, 2, 25; xxiv. 11-13; i Kings i. 8-10. (4) The statistical part 
of the material in the histories of the Kings summaries of wars, list 
of officials may well have been derived from such royal records as 
those ascribed to King David (i Chron. xxvii. 24). (5) There must 
also have been some poetical work from which were taken such 
passages as Hannah's song (i Sam. ii. i-io) ; the song of the bow 
(2 Sam. i. 17-27); David's lament for Abner (2 Sam. iii. 33, 34); 
David's thanksgiving (2 Sam. xxii. ; Psa. xviii.) ; the last words of 
David (2 Sam. xxiii. 1-7). Indeed, special reference is made 
(2 Sam. i. 1 8) to such a work, known as the Book of Jasher. (6) 
There is no reason to doubt, and good reason to believe, that oral 
tradition supplied the compiler with some of his material. All this 
is of great importance for any careful study of the Old Testament 
histories. 

6. We come now to the last and most important feature, namely, 
the prophetic character of the Old Testament histories ; and it is 
here that they part company with the writings of all other nations. 
The word * prophetic ' is to be used in a broader sense than as 
meaning ' predictive.' Prophecy has been well defined as ' the 
declaration and illustration of the principles of Divine government,' 
and we must not forget that there was a prophecy of the past and 
present as well as of the future. When the man of God looked 
about him, and saw this condition of things here, and that condition 
there ; when he assured those within the reach of his voice that the 
one was contrary to God's will, and that God was already sending 
upon them punishment because of it : that the other was as God 
would have it, and that the marks of Divine favour were already 
apparent, we may call this the prophecy of the present. 

When one, inspired from above, recalled how God led individuals 
or nations, and writes the record of the past, the patriarch's devotion 
to the Almighty and his reward, or the nation's apostasy and the 
slavery into which it plunged them : a king's crime, with its severe 
and long-drawn-out punishment, a royal prayer, a miraculous deliver- 
ance, a prophet's mission, a city turned from sin when he writes 
this down for the encouragement or warning of his friends and 
countrymen, and of those who are to follow him, we may call it a 
prophecy of the past. 

Now, the chief characteristic of Hebrew history, the thing which is, 
above all else, peculiar to it, is this prophetical element. The fact 
is, these so-called historical books are not history at all (this does not 
mean that they are not historical) ; they are prophecy of the truest 



166 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

and strictest kind. This point must be treated very briefly, (i) In 
the Hebrew Bible, the historical books are called ' prophets,' classi- 
fied with Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the rest, and thus distinguished, on 
the one hand, from the 'law,' and, on the other, from the 'writings' 
(Psalms, Job, etc.). (2) The material is everywhere prophetic in its 
character. Nothing is written down to serve any other than a 
religious purpose, (a) The Book of Judges describes ' the collapse 
of the Israelitish policy, the occasion of the collapse, namely, Israel's 
apostasy, and the treatment of Israel by her oppressors as the con- 
sequence of the collapse. All this is religious ; it is preaching of the 
highest order. Every distinct narrative will be found to convey a 
religious lesson. (I)) Consider the leading topics in i Samuel : the 
contrast between Samuel and the sons of Eli ; Samuel's steady 
growth ; Eli's weak character ; the decay of religion ; punishment of 
sin, as seen in the loss of the ark; the manifestation of Jehovah's 
power in defence of His ark ; the wilfulness and superstition of Saul ; 
the providential escapes of David ; the gradual hardening of Saul's 
heart, etc. (c) Recall the great story of 2 Samuel, the sin of David 
and the punishment which followed, a story to which everything else 
is made subordinate, (d) In the Book of Kings this is seen not only 
in the prominence given to the work of the prophets, especially 
Elijah and Elisha, but also in the almost monotonous ' he did that 
which was right in the eyes of the Lord,' or, ' he did that which was evil 
in the eyes of the Lord,' a judgment always based on prophetic insight. 
(3) The form and spirit of the material, as well as the material itself, 
furnishes evidence of this. There is not space here for a detailed 
comparison of the Hebrew historical writings with those of other 
nations, but if such a comparison could be instituted with, for 
example, the Assyrian and Babylonian material, what would it show ? 
Many are now familiar with the character and contents of the 
Assyrian records, fragmentary, full of idle boasting, given chiefly to 
the describing of scenes of blood and pillage, lists of kings conquered, 
lists of mountains ascended, of rivers crossed, of countries subdued ; 
without aim or purpose, save to boast ; with no common bond ; 
statistical records, not history ; in almost every sense disappointing. 

Put side by side with these records those of the Hebrews, com- 
plete from the point of view of the writer, that only being omitted 
which did not serve the great purpose of his work ; containing, all 
told, less of the spirit of egotistical bravado than will be found in a 
single column of an Assyrian inscription ; battles, to be sure, but 
battles which were fought for principles ; statistics, to be sure, but 
only those which had to do with the interests of the kingdom of 



SUMMARY AND REVIEW OF SECTION. 167 

God ; from beginning to end written with a single purpose in view, 
and that to teach men (men of all times) how to live, how not to 
live ; holding up as examples of the punishment which follows sin 
the lives of the nation's most revered leaders. The result of such a 
comparison, with whatever literature it may be made, will be the 
same, namely, to show the presence of a ' something ' in the Hebrew 
historical writings which no other historical writings contain. That 
something is the prophetic element. The Old Testament pages with 
this element omitted would be as commonplace, as unsatisfactory, 
in short, as human, as the records of all other ancient nations are 
to-day. 

The Old Testament histories, so far as concerns their literary 
form and character, when judged by the standard of modern historio- 
graphy, show, it must be conceded, certain defects ; but these 
defects, when examined, prove to be the necessary accompaniment 
of the ruling purpose of that history. 

R. F. Horton concludes a careful consideration of the Old Testa- 
ment History with the following remarks : ' We have seen, broadly 
speaking, that, regarded as historical compositions, they show the 
marks of an origin similar to that of most other ancient historical 
works. The writers, writing centuries after the events, rely upon 
existing records which were more or less contemporaneous with the 
things recorded in them. Using these historical materials, very 
much as historians use materials still, the writers endeavoured to 
extract from them a uniform and consistent narrative; but their 
endeavour is seldom quite successful, for a careful study of their 
books constantly reveals discrepancies which are best explained by 
recognising a combination of different sources. . . . From all this 
we are bound to infer that Inspired History is not history which in 
its method of composition and infallibility of detail is marked off 
from other Ancient History.' 



NEW TESTAMENT. 



PRELIMINARY NOTE. 

HISTORY A SECONDARY FEATURE IN THE NEW 
TESTAMENT. 

THE New Testament records cover but a brief space of time, as 
compared with the long ages that are treated in the Old Testament. 
All the books of the New Testament, if actually written by those 
whose names they bear, must have been composed well within the 
first hundred years after the birth of Christ ; and as the creation of a 
Christian literature could hardly have begun before A.D. 40, the New 
Testament represents the treasures preserved for us from the writings 
of only about fifty years. 

Very few disputable questions of history, or chronology, are intro- 
duced, and those which do occur are chiefly associated with inexact 
quotations from the older Scriptures, or with the cases in which the 
Old Testament records are themselves uncertain. 

Of our Lord's life, the only important disputable matters are, the 
exact date of His birth, and the precise length of His active ministry. 
As the Evangelists do not seem to have designed a strict chrono- 
logical setting of the incidents of our Lord's life, it has been found 
impossible to construct any chronological order that can be univer- 
sally acceptable, by fitting together the accounts of the four Evange- 
lists. There are evident instances of duplicate records, but we may 
err in making statements that are nearly alike memorials of but one 
event. 

The epistles bear very slight relation to history, and do but help 
to fix some of the dates given in the Acts of the Apostles. 

It should be understood that the paragraphs contained in the 
following section are not strictly historical, but come under the head- 
ing which is chosen for the entire section, including both the Old 
and the New Testament ' Difficulties relating to Matters of History.' 



BAPTIZING OF PROSELYTES. 169 



Baptizing of Proselytes. 

MATTHEW xxiii. 15 : 'Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites ! for ye 
:ompass sea and land to make one proselyte.' 

Difficulty. The rites associated with the admission of proselytes 
are not sufficiently known to form a ground for requiring any particular 
rite in cases of admission to the Christian Church. 

Explanation. Dean Plumptre has collected what is known con- 
cerning these baptizing customs, which seem to apply to those who 
became proselytes of Righteousness, or, as they were also called, 
Proselytes of the Covenant, perfect Israelites. ' The proselyte was 
first catechized as to his motives. If these were satisfactory, he was 
first instructed as to the Divine protection of the Jewish people, and 
then circumcised. A special prayer was appointed to accompany 
the act of circumcision. Often the proselyte took a new name, 
opening the Hebrew Bible and accepting the first that came. 

'All this, however, was not enough. The "convert" was still a 
" stranger." His children would be counted as bastards i.e., aliens. 
Baptism was required to complete his admission. When the wound 
(of circumcision) was healed, he was stripped of all his clothes in 
the presence of the three witnesses who had acted as his teachers, 
and who now acted as his sponsors, the " fathers " of the proselyte, 
and led into the tank or pool. As he stood there up to his neck in 
water, they repeated the great commandments of the Law. These 
he promised and vowed to keep, and then, with an accompanying 
benediction, he plunged under the water. To leave one hand- 
breadth of his body unsubmerged would have vitiated the whole rite. 
The Rabbis carried back the origin of the baptism to a remote 
antiquity, finding it in the command of Jacob (Gen. xxxv. 2), and of 
Moses (Exod. xix. 10). The Targum of the Pseudo-Jonathan inserts 
the word "Thou shalt circumcise and baptize" in Exod. xii. 44. 
Even in the Ethiopic version of Matt, xxiii. 15, we find "compass 
sea and land to baptize one proselyte."' 

But the questions which present difficulty are these : Was this 
ritual observed as early as the commencement of the first century ? 
If so, was the baptism of John, or that of the Christian Church, in 
any way derived from, or connected with, the baptism of proselytes ? 

The following conclusions are arrived at by Dean Plumptre in a 
careful review of the materials that are at command : (i) There is 
no direct evidence of the practice being in use before the destruction 
of Jerusalem. The statements of the Talmud as to its having come 



1 70 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL*DIFF1CUL TIES. 

from the fathers, and their exegesis of the Old Testament in connec- 
tion with it, are alike destitute of authority. (2) The negative 
argument, drawn from the silence of the Old Testament, of the 
Apocrypha, of Philo, and of Josephus, is almost decisive against the 
belief that there was in their time a baptism of proselytes, with as 
much importance attached to it as we find in the Talmudists. 

This must therefore be admitted : the supposed Jewish ritual of 
baptism, before the time of Christ, is a matter of presumption, and not 
of evidence. The Christian rite cannot be safely founded on a mere 
assumption. Its authorization must be obtained in some other 
direction. 

In further support of a position which may occasion some surprise, 
reference may be made to a note by Dean Mansel, who says : ' The 
Rabbinical writers represent the admission of proselytes as consisting 
of three successive steps circumcision, baptism and sacrifice. The 
baptism of proselytes was regarded by the latter Rabbis as equally 
necessary with circumcision, but it is probable that in earlier times it 
was merely a purification, preliminary to the offering of sacrifice such 
as is enjoined in other cases. After the destruction of the Temple, 
when the sacrifice was no longer possible, the baptism seems to have 
assumed the character of an independent and essential rite, with 
special reference to the initiation of proselytes ; but there is no 
evidence of its having had this character at earlier periods ; and the 
absence of all mention of it in the Old Testament, or in any works 
written while the Temple was standing, may be regarded at least as a 
proof that it had not at that time assumed the importance which was 
afterwards attached to it. 

' On these grounds it is concluded by Leyrer that the baptism of 
John was not directly derived from that administered to proselytes, 
though the same idea, that of repentance and conversion from 
spiritual uncleanness, was symbolized by both. But th : s symbolism 
may be also found in the purification commanded by the Mosaic 
Law, and it is probably to these, and to the figurative language of the 
prophets, that we should look to find a precedent for the baptism 
with water unto repentance administered by the forerunner of 
Christ.' 



THE A CCO UNTS OF SA ULS CONVERSION. 1 7 1 



The Accounts of Saul's Conversion. 

ACTS ix. 7 : ' And the men that journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a 
voice, but seeing no man.' 

ACTS xxii. 9 : And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were 
ifraid ; hut they heard not the voice of Him that spake to me.' 

ACTS xx vi. 14 : ' And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice saying 
unto me in the Hebrew language.' 

Question. Do the differences in these narratives amount to dis- 
crepancies, which imperil the historical truthfulness of the records ? 

Answer. In such records of incidents as are given us in our 
daily newspapers we constantly find similar differences, which often 
amount to discrepancies and contradictions ; but we readily allow such 
things to pass by, and never think of letting them spoil our general 
impression of the truth of the narrators. Each man will see things 
from his own standpoint, and only see what is in the field of his 
vision. Each man sees what he is disposed to see, and puts some- 
thing of himself into his seeing. Absolute correctness belongs to no 
man's testimony, based on personal observation. We accept this 
fact universally, and so complete one man's witness by the witness of 
other men. We are constantly making efforts to see things all round ; 
to see them from various points of view. We need not, therefore, 
wonder at the very slight diversity in the narratives of Paul's con- 
version. 

The accounts given by Paul himself, in his two speeches, are in 
complete \ harmony : only the early one, given in a quieter mood, is 
more full and precise. In it he declares that the people- did not hear, 
in such a way as to comprehend, the voice which he himself heard, 
and comprehended. In the latter speech he says he heard the voice, 
but does not make any remark about the people, leaving us to 
assume that he heard the voice, and they did not. 

The Evangelist Luke seems to contradict this by declaring that the 
men who journeyed with him heard a voice. The passages, however, 
can be readily harmonized by understanding Luke to say the men 
heard a noise, as of a man's voice, but they did not comprehend 
what the voice uttered. ' They did not hear the words could attach 
no meaning to the sounds which for Saul himself had so profound a 
significance.' 

Olshausen says : ' How this difference is to be explained, in accord- 
ance with the principle that literal agreement must exist between the 
different narratives of Holy Writ, I do not see.' But his translator 
puts the following footnote: * Surely the discrepancies commented upon 



172 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

by the author are merely apparent, and too much has been made of 
them. The two statements : " they heard a voice but saw no man," 
and "they heard nothing, but saw the light," are by no means 
opposed to one another ; for surely they might see the light and yet 
see no person, and they might hear the voice so far as the sounds of 
it were concerned, and yet not hear the words which were addressed 
to Paul. The two statements combined intimate that they saw the 
light, but saw not the person of Jesus, that they heard the sound of 
His voice, but did not catch His words.' 

The Fate of Judas Iscariot. 

MATTHEW xxvii. 3-8 : ' Then Judas, which betrayed Him, when he saw that He 
was condemned, repented himself, and brought back the ttiirty pieces of silver to 
the chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned in that I betrayed innocent blood. 
But they said, What is that to us ? see thou to it. And he cast down the pieces 
of silver into the sanctuary, and hanged himself. And the chief priests took the 
pieces of silver, and said, It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it 
is the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's 
field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, 
unto this day.' 

ACTS i. 18, 19 : ' Now this man obtained a field with the reward of his iniquity ; 
and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. 
And it became known to all the dwellers at Jerusalem ; insomuch that in their 
language that field was called Akeldama, that is, The field of blood.' 

Difficulty. Both the manner of Judas' death, and the circum- 
stances of the purchase of the field, are so distinctly different as to be 
irreconcilable in any natural and unforced way. 

Explanation. This must be granted. But it is evident that, 
upon such a matter, the Apostles would have no direct and personal 
knowledge ; they would be wholly dependent on current reports, the 
gossip of the day, which was as inexact, and uncertain, as we well 
know it to be now. Peter's account wholly differs from Matthew's. 
Peter says Judas obtained the field, Matthew says, the chief priests 
bought the field with the money that Judas flung down. Peter says : 
Judas fell and killed himself in the field he had obtained; but 
Matthew says he hanged himself, and Matthew does not connect the 
death with the field ; but naturally connects the name of the field 
with the betrayal of Jesus to His death. 

If these two narratives were given in any ordinary book, we should 
at once say, that Matthew's account is manifestly the historical one, 
and Peter's the legendary and untrustworthy. 

Professor Hackett gives the accepted harmonizing of the passages, 
which is, however, too strained and unnatural, to be readily accepted. 
' These passages do not necessarily contradict each other. Matthew 
does not say that Judas, after having hanged himself, did not fall to 



THE FATE OF JUDAS ISCARIOT. 173 

the ground, nor, on the contrary, does Luke say that Judas did not 
hang himself before he fell to the ground : and unless the writers 
affirm the reality of the events which they respectively mention in 
such a way as to assert or imply that if the one event be true the 
other must be false, it is obvious that they do not contradict each 
other. Of the precise relation of the two events in question to each 
other we have no information, and can affirm nothing with certainty. 
Some intermediate circumstance connected the one with the other 
as parts of the same transaction, but that circumstance has not been 
recorded. It is conjectured that Judas may have hung himself on 
the edge of a precipice near the valley of Hinnom, and that, the rope 
breaking by which he was suspended, he fell to the earth and was 
dashed to pieces. As I stood in this valley, and looked up to the 
rocky heights which hang over it on the south side of Jerusalem, I 
felt that the proposed explanation was a perfectly natural one ; I was 
more than ever satisfied with it. I measured the precipitous, almost 
perpendicular walls, in different places, and found the height to be 
variously 40, 36, 33, 30, and 25 feet. Olive-trees still grow quite 
near the edge of these rocks, and, anciently, no doubt, these and 
other trees were still more numerous in the same place. At the 
bottom of these precipices are also rocky ledges on which a person 
would fall from above, and in that case not only would life be 
destroyed, but the body almost inevitably would be bruised and 
mangled.' 

Dean Plumptre regards Acts i. 18, 19, as not an integral part of 
Peter's speech, but a note of explanation inserted by the historian : 
' The whole passage must be regarded as a note of the historian, not 
as part of the speech of Peter. It was not likely that he, speaking 
to disciples, all of whom knew the Aramaic, or the popular Hebrew 
of Palestine, should stop to explain that Aceldama meant, " in their 
proper tongue," the Field of Blood.' 'The horrors recorded in 
Acts may have been caused by the self-murderer's want of skill, or 
the trembling agony that could not tie the noose firm enough.' 
Olshausen takes the view that verses 18, 19, do not belong to the 
original speech of Peter. He says : ' Rather than give assent to 
forced interpretations, we would prefer the supposition that a twofold 
tradition obtained concerning the fate of Judas, since in such 
secondary matters, disparities otherwise occur. Yet we must confess 
that the accounts may be so connected as to permit the conjecture 
that Judas hanged himself, and falling down, was so injured that his 
bowels gushed out.' 

Buxtorf suggests that the expression of St. Matthew, 'hanged 



174 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

himself,' might be rendered ' he was choked,' as if by asphyxia, from 
over-excitement and anguish. He says the Jews have so explained 
the end of Ahithophel, and that a like explanation might suit in the 
Gospel. St. Chrysostom uses the expression to be strangled by con- 
science. But these views suggest even more serious difficulties. 

Theophylact seems to think there were two acts of suicide, one 
abortive and one successful, and by the aid of this suggestion recon- 
ciles the two accounts. He says the rope broke on the first attempt, 
and, after the resurrection of Christ.. Judas flung himself off some 
height. 

Alford says : ' The various attempts to reconcile the two narratives, 
which may be seen in most of our English commentaries, are among 
the saddest examples of the shifts to which otherwise high-minded 
men are driven by an unworthy system.' Alford thinks Luke's 
account in the Acts is precise, and that in Matthew general. * It is 
obvious that, while the general term used by Matthew points mainly 
at self-murder, the account given in Acts does not preclude the catas- 
trophe related having happened, in some way, as a Divine Judgment, 
during the suicidal attempt. Further than this, with our present 
knowledge, we cannot go.' 

The Fate of Herod Agrippa. 

ACTS xii. 23 : ' And immediately an angel of the Lord smote him, because he 
gave not God the glory : and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.' 

Difficulty. The description of the disease from ivhich Herod 
suffered is not consistent with the sudden death that seems to be 
implied. 

Explanation. It should always be borne in mind that the 
descriptions of disease given in Scripture are not strictly scientific. 
They represent ordinary observation, and, in such a case as that of 
Herod Agrippa, reproduce the talk of the court rather than any 
proper medical report, or any precise and direct knowledge of the 
Christian disciples. There are similar accounts of the deaths of men 
who have been infamous for their persecuting zeal, and there is a 
common notion that a kind of poetical justice is done when the per- 
secutor who has toroired the bodies of others himself dies a miser- 
able, degrading, and painful death. There are many cases in which 
historical truth is sacrificed for the sake of this sentiment concerning 
what oug\t to have happened. Francis Jacox has collected a number 
of illustrations of these 'retributive surprises.' 'So fond is popular 
history of teaching this sort of philosophy by examples, that examples 



THE FATE OF HEROD AGRIPPA. 175 

;o the purpose are widely accepted which are not yet historical. 
Cardinal Balue, under Louis XL, is pointed out in his iron cage as 
i malignant inventor punished in and through his own invention ; 
3ut Michelet has exposed the fallacy of supposing "Ralue the inventor 
3f those iron cages, which had long been known in Italy. The 
French doctor Guilloti'n is even now not uncommonly believed to 
have perished in the reign of terror by the instrument invented by, 
ind named after, him; whereas he quietly died in his bed many, 
many years later than that.' But it is more to the point to recall 
how the persecuted Protestants in the active times of the Inquisition 
delighted at the reports that the leading Inquisitors had died dreadful 
and degrading deaths. 

Herod the Great died of some terrible form of internal ulceration 
and corruption, and so did some of the most violent and self-indulgent 
of the Roman emperors. Without more careful and scientific de- 
scription it would seem to be impossible to identify the disease. It 
is very doubtful whether there is such a disease as phthiriasis, or 
morbus pedicularis, which is usually assumed as the disease of Herod 
Agrippa ; but peculiarly painful and offensive suffering sometimes 
ends the lives of those who have been unusually vicious. 

In the case of Herod Agrippa we must distinguish between what 
the Bible states and what the reader assumes. The language of 
Luke is very general. He merely narrates signs of a sudden attack 
on the day when a grand state audience was given, the rapid develop- 
ment of disease, its taking revolting forms, and the patient's ultimate 
death. What is assumed, but not stated, by the writer, is that the 
beginning of the disease was on the day of audience, and that the 
death of the patient occurred on the day that he was smitten. How- 
ever rapidly the disease may have progressed, all ulcerous and can- 
cerous affections require certain time for development, and there is 
no reason why the miraculous features of this Divine judgment should 
be unduly extended. 

Farrar says : ' The death of Herod Agrippa, like that of his. grand- 
father, has been ascribed to phthiriasis, but not by the sacred his- 
torians. It is, however, an historic fact that many cruel tyrants have 
died of ulcerous maladies, which the popular rumour described much 
as Lactantius describes them in his tract De Mortibus rersecutorum. 
Instances are Pheretima (Herodotus), Antiochus Epiphanes (Mac- 
cabees II.), Herod the Great (Josephus), Maximius Galerius (Euse- 
bius), Maximin (Eusebius), Claudius Lucius Herminianus (Tertullian), 
Duke of Alva, etc.' 

Dr. Oswald Dykes, after referring to the blasphemous flattery of 



176 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

the people, says : ' Presently, even as his ears drank in, well pleased, 
the impious homage, he was struck where he sat with sudden illness. 
An angel from God smote him, says St. Luke. In a state of violent 
pain he had to be carried from the theatre to his palace, a dying 
man. After this shocking interruption to the ceremony the crowd 
broke up in consternation. The town went into mourning. For 
jive days long the king lay in the grip of his horrible and excruciating 
malady. On August 6 the king was dead. Then the false and 
heartless mob that had been ready to worship the sovereign while he 
lived, and had filled the streets with pretended lamentations for his 
seizure, gave themselves up, troops and populace together, to the 
most indecent and open rejoicings over his decease, toasting the 
tyrant's end in public banquets, and heaping cowardly and brutal 
insults on the royal princesses. So, arnid lies and shame and execra- 
tion, there passed away into corruption and the grave the godlike 
Herod.' For these facts the authority of Josephus may be cited. 
Dr. Dykes goes on to ask : ' Why should this old-world story be 
rehearsed in Sacred Writ ? Is it that there was anything miraculous 
in this man's illness ? or that putrid internal ulcers, of which Antio 
chus Epiphanes and Herod the Great had both died before him, is 2 
disease specially fit to scourge the royal persecutors of the faith ? 01 
that the sudden death of wicked men is always to be looked for ane 
accepted as a special judgment from Almighty God ? No ; but tc 
teach us that God the Avenger, with His spiritual ministers of judg 
ment, stands as close beside wicked and impious sinners, even in the 
hour of their proudest success, as, in the night of the saint's trial 
there stands by him the angel of deliverance. The hand of Him ir 
whom we live can reach up to the loftiest to pluck them down from theii 
seats, as well as down to the lowliest to uplift. If here again we an 
not often suffered to see the end as it was seen in the case of Heroc 
Agrippa, if no such dramatic denouement should point the moral of ; 
selfish life, nor loathsome death follow always like a satire on th< 
heels of pride, it is not because God's angel of wrath has not beei 
standing all the while beside the chair of state, or at the board o 
luxury ; it is only that the wicked are kept a little longer for the da 1 
of their judgment.' 

The chief portions of Josephus' narrative may be given for th 
sake of readers who have no ready access to libraries : ' Now whei 
Agrippa had reigned three years over all Judaea, he came to the cit 
Caesarea, which was formerly called Strato's Tower, and there h 
exhibited shows in honour of Caesar, upon his being informed tha 
there was a certain festival celebrated to make vows for his safet) 



THE FATE OF HEROD AGR1PPA. 177 

At which festival a great multitude was gotten together of the 
principal persons, and such as were of dignity throughout his pro- 
vince. On the second day of which shows he put on a garment 
made wholly of silver, and of a contexture truly wonderful, and came 
into the theatre early in the morning, at which time the silver of his 
garment, being illuminated by the fresh reflection of the sun's rays 
upon it, shone out after a surprising manner, and was so resplendent 
as to spread a dread and shuddering over those that looked intently 
upon it, and presently his flatterers cried out, one from one place 
and another from another (though not for his good), that he was a 
god. And they added : " Be thou merciful to us, for although we 
have hitherto reverenced thee only as a man, yet shall we henceforth 
own thee as superior to mortal nature." Upon this the king did 
neither rebuke them nor reject their impious flattery. But as he 
presently afterwards looked up, he saw an owl sitting upon a certain 
rope over his head, and immediately understood that this bird was 
the messenger of ill tidings, as it had once been the messenger of 
good tidings to him, and fell into the deepest sorrow. A violent 
pain also arose in his belly, having begun with great severity. He 
therefore looked upon his friends and said : " I whom you call a god 
am commanded presently to depart this life, while Providence thus 
reproves the lying words you just now said to me, and I who was 
called by you immortal am immediately to be hurried away by death. 
But I am bound to accept what Providence allots, as it pleases God, 
for we have by no means lived ill, but in a splendid and happy 
manner." When he had said this his pain became violent. Accord- 
ingly he was carried into the palace, and the rumour went abroad 
everywhere that he would certainly die in a little time. . . . And 
when he had been quite worn out by the pain in his bowels for five 
days, he departed this life.' 

The Scripture account seems to recall the narrative of the death of 
Antiochus Epiphanes, as given in 2 Maccabees ix. 5 : ' The Lord 
Almighty, the God of Israel, smote him with an incurable and in- 
visible plague, for as soon as he had spoken these words a pain of 
the bowels that was remediless came upon him, and sore torments of 
the inward parts ... so that the worms rose up out of the body of 
this wicked man.' 



12 



178 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 



Saul's Life from Conversion to Ministry. 

GALATIANS i. 15-18 : * But when it was the good pleasure of God .... to 
reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles ; immediately 
I conferred not with flesh and blood : neither went I up to Jerusalem to them 
which were apostles before me ; but I went into Arabia, and again I returned to 
Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode 
with him fifteen days.' 

Difficulty. Saul's account differ s, in material points, from* that 
given in Acts ix. 19-30, which seems to imply an early visit to Jeru- 
salem , and actual preachings in the Holy City. 

Explanation. It is evident that the record in the Acts is not 
to be taken as a full and detailed account. It has to be completed, 
and even fitted up, by the insertion, in their proper places, of the 
personal references found in the Epistles. It is not difficult to form 
a connected narrative of St. Paul's early movements, by a careful 
comparison of the various notices which have been preserved. 

Immediately after his conversion, he retired into Arabia, by which 
is usually to be understood the Sinaitic peninsula, though the desert 
districts lying eastward of Damascus would have provided, abundantly, 
the seclusion he sought. The time of his retirement cannot be 
known. He mentions three years, but if this is to be dated from the 
time of his conversion, it included the time of preaching in Damascus, 
which occasioned such active persecution that his life was imperilled. 
From Arabia he returned to Damascus, where he had made friends. 
Probably he hesitated about going to Jerusalem, as the Christians 
there could not know what the brethren at Damascus did concerning 
him. He was compelled to escape from persecution by going into 
the dangerous surroundings of the Holy City. 

The question which is most difficult to answer is this : Did Paul 
(or Saul) begin to preach in the synagogues of Damascus immediately 
after his conversion; and did he excite opposition in Damascus 
before he retired to Arabia ? This would certainly be the first im- 
pression of a reader of the Acts (ix. 19-30); but it may fairly be 
doubted, because the retirement would be sought for purposes of 
mental and spiritual preparation, and he was not likely to begin 
work before he felt prepared. The analogy of Moses, who had his 
desert experience before beginning his active ministry ; and the case 
of our Lord, who retired into the wilderness districts immediately on 
His ordination to His mission, prepare us to expect that Saul (or 
Paul) would retire for spiritual preparations as soon as the new con- 
viction had given fresh character to his life. There was so much 
he needed to think over. 



SA ULS LIFE FROM CONVERSION TO MINISTR Y. 179 

Farrar takes this view, and gives reasons for his opinion drawn from 
the probable mental moods of the Apostle. ' A multitude of writers 
have assumed that St. Paul first preached at Damascus, then retired 
to Arabia, and then returned, with increased zeal and power, to 
preach in Damascus once more. Not only is St. Paul's own language 
unfavourable to such a view, but it seems to exclude it. What would 
all psychological considerations lead us to think likely in the case of 
one circumstanced as Saul of Tarsus was after his sudden and strange 
conversion ? The least likely course the one which would place 
him at the greatest distance from all deep and earnest spirits who 
have passed through a similar crisis would be for him to have 
plunged at once into the arena of controversy, and to have passed, 
without pause or breathing-space, from the position of a leading 
persecutor into that of a prominent champion. In case of men of 
shallow nature, or superficial convictions, such a proceeding is 
possible ; but we cannot imagine it of St. Paul. It is not thus with 
souls which have been arrested in mid-career by the heart-searching 
voice of God. Just as an eagle which has been drenched and 
battered by some fierce storm will alight to plume its ruffled wings, 
so when a great soul has " passed through fire and through water " 
it needs some safe and quiet place in which to rest. The lifelong con- 
victions of any man may be reversed in an instant, and that sudden 
reversion often causes a marvellous change ; but it is never in an 
instant that the whole nature and character of a man are transformed 
from what they were before. It is difficult to conceive of any change 
more total, any rift of difference more deep, than that which separated 
Saul the persecutor from Paul the Apostle ; and we are sure that 
like Moses, like Elijah, like our Lord Himself, like almost every great 
soul in ancient or modern times to whom has been entrusted the task 
of swaying the destinies by moulding the convictions of mankind 
like Sakya Mouni, like Mahomet in the cave of Hira, like St. Francis 
of Assisi in his sickness, like Luther in the monastery of Erfurt he 
would need a quiet period in which to elaborate his thoughts, to still 
the tumult of his emotions, to commune in silence and secrecy with 
his own soul. It was necessary for him to understand the Scriptures ; 
to co-ordinate his old with his new beliefs. It is hardly too much to 
say that if Saul ignorant as yet of many essential truths of Chris- 
tianity, alien as yet from the experience of its deepest power had 
begun at once to argue with and to preach to others, he could hardly 
have done the work he did. To suppose that the truths of which 
afterwards he became the appointed teacher were all revealed to him 
as by one flash of light in all their fulness is to suppose that which 

12 2 



i8o HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

is alien to God's dealings with the human soul, and which utterly con- 
tradicts the phenomena of that long series of Epistles in which we 
watch the progress of his thoughts. Even on grounds of historic 
probability, it seems unlikely that Saul should at once have been able 
to substitute a propaganda for an inquisition. Under such circum- 
stances it would have been difficult for the brethren to trust, and still 
more difficult for the Jews to tolerate him. The latter would have 
treated him as a shameless renegade, the former would have mis- 
trusted him as a secret spy.' 

Professor Find lay says : * The place of the Arabian journey seems 
to us to lie between verses 21 and 22 of Acts ix. That passage gives 
a twofold description of Paul's preaching in Damascus, in its earlier 
and later stages, with a double note of time (verses 19 and 23). 
Saul's first testimony, taking place " straightway," was, one would 
presume, a mere declaration of faith in Jesus : " In the synagogues 
he proclaimed Jesus (saying) that He is the Son of God" (R.V.), 
language in striking harmony with that of the Apostle in the text, 
Gal. i. 12, 1 6. Verse 22 presents a different situation. Paul is now 
preaching in his established and characteristic style.' 

The First Christian Council. 

ACTS xv. 6 : ' And the apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider 
of this matter.' 

Question. Did the Apostles and elders, at this first council, 
assume authority over the Churches ? 

Answer. The founders of the early Christian Church were Jews, 
born into, and trained in, Jewish associations. When they had to 
organize the Christian disciples, and arrange for the order and 
government of the new church, they could but take as models the 
system with which they were familiar. When separate worship had 
to be organized, it was inevitable that Christian services would be 
modelled on the pattern of synagogue services, such modifications or 
additions being made as the fresh circumstances and feelings de- 
manded In the same way, when churches arose in various places, 
and Christians, widely separated from each other, needed some central 
bond of unity, and some outside authority to settle questions of 
doctrine, and some direction towards securing uniformity of ritual, it 
was inevitable that a council should be formed, similar to the familiar 
council which regulated the ecclesiastical opinions and practices of 
Judaism. 

Some knowledge of the Jewish Council will therefore help us in. 



THE FIRST CHRISTIAN COUNCIL. 181 

an effort to understand the Council formed in the early Church. In a 
previous passage, the Sanhedrin has been fully described ; and it is 
only necessary to add that every town, even every village, in Palestine, 
had a little local Sanhedrin of seven members, the seven who con- 
ducted the synagogue. Among these seven were three leaders, 
called triumvirs, who decided by themselves unimportant causes. 
They settled questions of inheritance. ' The triumvirs,' says 
Maimonides, ' ought to have seven qualifications : wisdom, gentle- 
ness, piety, hatred of mammon, love of truth ; they should be loved 
of men, and be of good repute.' The seven were entrusted with 
the police of the town or village, and judged all causes not involving 
capital punishment. 

The officers of a synagogue formed a college of elders. With 
their head they became a kind of chapter, managing the affairs of the 
synagogue, and possessing the power of excommunicating. Elders, 
in this sense, seem to have been appointed for what may be called 
the * Christian Synagogue.' Only some of the Apostles remained at 
Jerusalem, and they would naturally be joined with the elders in the 
practical management of the Christian community. What is to be 
specially noticed is, that no authority on other churches was demanded 
by the Christian Council at Jerusalem. They only advised what was 
most suitable ; and even the advice did not come from the officials, 
but from the whole body of the Church, which acted under their 
direction. So far as we can gather, the first council claimed no 
authority beyond that which came from the fact that the first 
organized Christian community was formed at Jerusalem, and had the 
advantage of the advice and counsel of the Apostles who had been 
with Jesus. 

' It will be seen at once how closely the organization of the 
synagogue was reproduced in that of the Ecclesia. Here also there 
was the single presbyter-bishop in small towns, a council of presbyters 
under one head in large cities. The legatus of the synagogue appears 
in the angelos, perhaps also in the apostolos, of the Christian Church. 
The presbyters, or elders, discharged functions which were essentially 
episcopal that is, involving pastoral superintendence. The existence 
of a body bearing the name of " elders " is implied in the narrative of 
Ananias (Acts v. 6). The order itself is recognised in Acts xi. 30, 
and takes part in the deliberations of the Church at Jerusalem in 
Acts xv. It is transferred by Paul and Barnabas to the Gentile 
Churches in their first missionary journey (Acts xiv. 23). Of the 
order in which the first elders were appointed, as of the occasion 
which led to the institution of the office, we have no record.' 



i8 2 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

What is quite clear is, that the authority belonging to the first 
Christian Council was the authority belonging to a conference, not to 
any individuals, or to any official position. Conferences and councils 
can never assert dominion over faith and ritual, save in a very limited 
sense. They cannot, indeed, be unanimous enough to claim more 
than the right of a majority. Their decisions always have this possible 
weakness in them the right may be on the side of the few who 
dissent, or withhold their opposition. The result of a conference 
must always be submitted to the judgment, and voluntary acceptance, 
of those whom it may concern. 

Dr. Dykes skilfully shows in what an informal way the early Church 
gained its organization. ' It is true that from the first there was 
order, for order is essential to healthy life. Without order of some 
sort there could have been no discipline, and Ananias and Simon 
show that from the first discipline was indispensable. It is no less 
true that as the church grew more independent of the synagogue, and 
realized better its corporate unity, officers were multiplied, regulations 
were laid down, and a polity and an order of worship became 
inevitable. The Church took its external mould under the slow 
pressure of providences. So far indeed was the Church from being 
launched in its perfect or final shape, that it is extremely difficult to 
say at what point of its slow development it really became the Church 
at all. In fact, it might be said that not till Jerusalem had welcomed 
Antioch, and Antioch greeted Jerusalem, was there really and truly 
a Church free of Mosaism or Catholic for all men. Even after this 
point was reached, questions of organization and legislation, about 
office-bearers, liturgy, discipline, and the like points of controversy, 
still slumbered among the unstirred difficulties of the future.' 

Dean Plumptre says of this conference : * The meeting rightly 
takes its place as the first in the long series of councils, or synods, 
which mark the course of the Church's history. It bore its witness 
that the government of the Christian Society was not to rest in the 
autocracy of a single will, but in the deliberative decision of those 
who, directly or indirectly, having been appointed by the choice, or 
with the approval, of the people, represented the whole community. 
Presbyters had an equal voice with the Apostles, whose position was 
analogous to that of the later bishops. Those whom we should call 
the laity were present at the deliberations, and, though we have no 
proof that they took part in them, gave their vote.' 



THE SITUATION OF GOLGOTHA. 183 



The Situation of Golgotha. 

MATTHEW xxvii. 33 : ' And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, 
hat is to say, a place of a skull.' 

Question. Can the late identification of this place> by the shape 
>/ a mound resembling a skull, be reasonably accepted ? 

Answer. This place is not mentioned by any Jewish writer, and 
antil quite recently the position was wholly a matter of conjecture. 
A fourth century tradition identifies the spot with the building 
inown as the Church of the Sepulchre. One eminent archaeologist 
Df our time (Mr. James Fergusson) identifies it with the Dome of the 
Rock in the Mosque of El Aksa. Both sites were then outside the 
:ity, but were afterwards enclosed by the third wall, built by 
A.grippa II. 

There can be no doubt that the place was named Golgotha on 
account of its skull-like shape, and efforts have been directed to the 
discovery of such a mound or hillock, near the city. Kitto gives 
suggestive hints to those who make a search for it, when he says : 
' The place of execution was always outside the walls of towns. At 
Jerusalem it was upon a swell of ground called Golgotha the place 
of a skull some say on account of the skulls of dead criminals that 
lay about there, forgetting that the Jews never suffered the bodies or 
bones even of criminals to remain unburied. The name was there- 
fore, doubtless, derived from the skull-like shape of the hill ; for we 
are not bound to credit the tradition, that it was thus named because 
the skull of Adam had been found there.' This tradition adds, that 
as the blood flowed from the sacred wounds on his skull his soul 
was translated to paradise. 

Thenius was the first to suggest identification with the rocky knoll 
to the west of Jeremiah's Grotto, and later explorers confirm his 
suggestion. Sir J. W. Dawson, Dr. Selah Merrill, C. R. Conder, 
and others, give good evidence of the skull-like features of the place, 
and we strongly incline to the view that the traditional site must 
be abandoned, and this accepted as the ' most sacred spot of earth,' 
where ' our dear Lord was crucified, who died to save us all.' 

Sir J. W. Dawson gives a careful record of his own personal 
observations, which convince us of the probability that the true site 
has been at last recovered. After showing that the execution must 
have taken place on the table-land north of the city, near the road 
leading from the Damascus, or St. Stephen's, Gate, which is pro- 
bably the ' old gate ' of Nehemiah, he says : * There is, however, one 



184 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

positive indication given by the Evangelists which is of the greatest 
significance, and that is the name which they all agree in giving to the 
place of crucifixion. This name is Golgotha, " the skull," and in its 
Greek form, Kranion, translated by the Latin Calvary, Three of the 
Evangelists translate the name as meaning " skull-place." Luke 
gives it simply as " skull." There is no reason to suppose that the 
name arose from skulls being there, which, indeed, would have been 
very unlikely, considering the laws and habits of the Jews ; and the 
name is not "place of skulls," but "skull-place," or "skull." The 
most probable reason of the name is that the place was a knoll or 
rising ground, which by its form suggested the idea of a skull, and 
so received that name. Now there happens to be outside the north 
wall of the city, but near to it, about 100 yards distant, a knoll of 
rock, of rounded form, and covered with shallow soil and grass 
which, in its form, and certain old tombs, which simulate sockets of 
eyes, has a remarkable resemblance from some points of view to a 
skull partly buried in the ground. This resemblance has suggested 
itself to many observers, independently of any supposition that it is 
Golgotha. It is true that such resemblances depend very much on 
point of view, and direction of light. But these conditions, as is well 
known, add to the effect, for it flashes out upon us suddenly and 
strikingly when least expected ; and it is this that excites the popular 
imagination, and often gives rise to a name.' 

* Jewish traditions, first ascertained by Dr. Chaplin, and cited by 
Conder, show that this hill was anciently used as a place of execution, 
and it is not improbably the place where Stephen the proto-martyr 
was stoned. It' is now quite unoccupied, except by some Moslem 
graves. It is further to be observed that this place fulfils all the 
other indications of the Evangelists. It is near to the city, between 
the ancient roads leading from the Damascus Gate and Herod's Gate, 
not distant from the site of the Prsetorium, and having gardens and 
tombs close to it. It is also so situated as to command a view of 
the whole city and the Temple, and of the amphitheatre of surround- 
ing hills, and there is no other place which fulfils all these conditions. 
Dr. Fisher Howe argues, in an able manner, in favour of this site. 
He quotes Van de Velde, Robinson, and other travellers, in support 
of his view; and I found that my friends, Dr. Merrill and Dr. 
Chaplin of Jerusalem, who are thoroughly acquainted with the topo- 
graphy of the city, were of the same opinion, and it was also adopted 
by the late General Gordon, who had carefully surveyed the ground, 
and had caused a model of the hill to be prepared by the sculptor 
Paulus, of which I have a copy now before me, which, as one turns 



THE SITUATION OF GOLGOTHA. 185 

it around, and exposes it to different lights, admirably shows the 
peculiar and often startling effect of the features of the skull.' 

Recent writers on the Life of Christ, who have had this suggested 
identification of Calvary before them, have exercised their judgments 
on it, and the results may be briefly summarized. The general result 
is decided approval. 

Farrar says : ' The data for anything approaching to certainty are 
wholly wanting ; and, in all probability, the actual spot lies buried 
and obliterated under the mountainous rubbish heaps of the ten- 
times-taken city. It is hardly worth while to enter into elaborate 
arguments about the site, which may any day be overthrown by a 
discovery of the course of the second wall.' 

Edersheim says : ' We cannot here explain the various reasons for 
which the traditional site must be abandoned. Certain it is, that 
Golgotha was " outside the gate," and " near the city." In all likeli- 
hood, it was the usual place of execution. Lastly, we know that it 
was situated near gardens, where there were tombs, and close to the 
highway. The three last conditions point to the north of Jerusalem. 
It must be remembered that the third wall, which afterwards sur- 
rounded Jerusalem, was not built until several years after the Cruci- 
fixion. The new suburb of Bezetha extended at that time outside 
the second wall. Here the great highway passed northwards ; close by 
were villas and gardens ; and here also rock-hewn sepulchres have 
been discovered, which date from that period. But this is not all. 
The present Damascus Gate in the north of the city seems, in most 
ancient tradition, to have borne the name of St. Stephen's Gate, 
because the proto-martyr was believed to have passed through it to 
his stoning. Close by, then, must have been the place of execution. 
And at least one Jewish tradition fixes upon this very spot, close by 
what is known as the Grotto of Jeremiah, as the ancient " place of 
stoning" (Beth ha Segilafi). And the description of the locality 
answers all requirements. It is a weird, dreary place, two or three 
minutes aside from the high-road, with a high, rounded, skull-like rocky 
plateau, and a sudden depression, or hollow, beneath, as if the jaws 
of that skull had opened. Whether or not the " tomb of the Herodian 
period in the rocky knoll to the west of Jeremiah's Grotto " was the 
most sacred spot on earth the " Sepulchre in the Garden," we dare 
not positively assert, though every probability attaches to it.' 

Fallings says : ' Golgotha may have been rightly identified with the 
rounded knoll near Jeremiah's Grotto, just outside the present 
Damascus Gate. But the excavation of the newly-discovered wall 
must be completed before opinion can utter its last word. The knoll 



i86 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

is higher than the sacred rock of the Temple. " A sort of amphi- 
theatre is formed by the gentle slopes on the west ; and the whole 
population of the city might easily witness from the vicinity anything 
taking place on the top of the cliff. The knoll is just beside the 
main north road" "The hill is now quite bare, with scanty grass 
covering its rocky soil." It has been discovered to be the traditional 
place of stoning. And the probability of the identification gains 
ground. It is generally agreed that it was the usual place of 
execution.' 

Stalker thinks the name Golgotha probably refers to the ghastly 
relics of the tragedies happening at the usual place of execution, which 
might be lying about. And he asserts that the place cannot now be 
identified. 

The Speaker's Commentary ', in an Additional Note, vol. i., p. 190, 
argues strongly in favour of the traditional site, the evidence in 
support of which it considers to be strong, and well-nigh conclusive ; 
the only disputable question being whether it was within, or outside 
the second wall of the city. But it is doubtful whether the 
suggestion of Thenius, which is given above, and so ably supported, 
has received due consideration from the writer. 

Canon Liddon^ after referring to Mr. Fergusson's curious notion, 
that the true site of the sepulchre was that of the present so-called 
Mosque of Omar in the Temple area, adds : ' A more plausible 
opinion, warmly upheld, among others, by the late General Gordon, 
is that it is in a garden at the foot of the striking hill which is just out- 
side the Gate of Damascus. This site is so much more picturesque and 
imposing than the traditional one, that, had there been any evidence 
in its favour in Constantine's day, it would certainly have been 
adopted. The old belief is likely to hold its ground unless one thing 
should happen. We know that our Lord was crucified and buried 
outside the Gate of Jerusalem. If excavations ever should show that 
the second that is, in our Lord's day, the outer wall of the city 
embraced the site of the sepulchre within its circuit, then it would be 
certain that the traditional site is not the true one.' 



DIFFERING RECORDS OF OUR LORDS INFANCY. 187 



Differing Records of our Lord's Infancy. 

LUKE ii. 39 : And when they had accomplished all things that were according 
o the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.' 

MATTHEW ii. 22, 23 : ' But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over 
iudea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither; and being 
-varned of God in dream, he withdrew into the parts of Galilee, and came and 
Iwelt in a city called Nazareth.' 

Difficulty. Matthew and Luke distinctly differ as to the time and 
l he circumstances of the return to Nazareth. 

Explanation. Omissions should never be confused with con- 
:radictions. Fuller information on matters of detail in no way 
mpugns the correctness of a general account of the leading facts. 
Luke fixes the fact that the return to Galilee was subsequent to the 
presentation in the Temple, but he says nothing concerning the 
nterval between the presentation and the return. Sequence he 
iffirms, but immediate sequence he does not affirm, though that would 
DC our assumption, if we had his words only, and no correction 
hrough Matthew's record of intervening events. 

It should always be borne in mind that the four Gospels are not 
ives of Christ in any such sense as we now attach to that term. 
They are properly ' reminiscences,' we might even say ' contributions 
:owards the formation of a life of Christ,' and therefore completeness 
s not to be looked for, but the records preserved by each are to be 
skilfully fitted to the records given by the others. 

This matter is an interesting one, because it shows the genuine- 
less of each narrative, the independence of each Evangelist. 
Matthew could not have compared his work with Luke's, or Luke 
vith Matthew's, or such a simple divergency would have been 
ectified. 

From Matthew we can fill in the interval between the presentation 
ind the renewed residence at Nazareth. It probably included the 
;isit of the Magi, the massacre of the infants, the flight into Egypt, 
ind the Divinely-guided return, with the reason for not making a 
)ermanent settlement in Bethlehem. 

Farrar says all that need be said on this subject : ' It is difficult 
o believe that either of the Evangelists had seen the narrative of the 
)ther, because the prima facie inference from either singly would be 
mperfectly correct. They supplement each other, because they each 
mrrate the truth, though probably neither of them was aware of all 
hat has been delivered to us.' 



i88 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 



Dates of John's Imprisonment and Death. 

MATTHEW xiv. 3 : ' For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put 
him in prison, for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife.' 

Question. Will not a decision an these dates aid in settling the 
order of events in our Lord's life ? 

The materials for forming a decision are not at command. No 
one has succeeded in putting the events of either John Baptist's life 
or our Lord's life into an order that can be universally accepted. We 
may, however, consider what materials can be supplied as a basis on 
which a judgment may be formed. 

Comparing together Matt. iv. 12, 'Now when Jesus had heard 
that John was cast into prison, He departed into Galilee,' and Mark 
i. 14, ' Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into 
Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,' we learn that 
the imprisonment of John took place a little time before our Lord's 
second visit to Galilee. For the incidents of that second visit, see 
John iv. 43-54- 

Another point seems to be well defined. The Baptist was living 
at the time of our Lord's third visit to Galilee, for he sent two of his 
disciples with an inquiry while our Lord was preaching in the cities 
of Galilee (Matt. xi. 2). He seems to have been put to death soon 
after, for the tidings came to Jesus while in Galilee, and towards the 
close of His third visit. This will make John's imprisonment to have 
lasted nearly twelve months, and his death to have occurred in our 
Lord's second ministerial year. 

Very much depends on the decision we make concerning the feast 
referred to in John v. i, * After this there was a feast of the Jews, 
and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.' It is usual to regard this as a 
Passover, but Wieseler, and some other modern critics, think it was 
Purim. (See a later paragraph on the ' Unknown Feast.') Then we 
can only fit together the narratives by assuming that John's imprison- 
ment only lasted three weeks or a month. In favour of this view, it 
may be added that so unscrupulous a woman as Herodias was not 
likely to wait twelve long months before getting her revenge. 

Dr. E. R. Conder thinks the imprisonment must have lasted the 
greater part of two years, from May, A.D. 27, to the spring of A.D. 29 } 
when he was put to death by the Tetrarch of Galilee, Herod Antipas. 
* Assuming the Passover named in John vi. 4 to be that of A.D. 29 
(and the third in our Lord's ministry), we infer the date of John's 
death from the following facts : The account of the imprisonmen 



PHILIPPI AS A COLONY. 189 

and murder of John is given in Matt. xiv. i-n, Mark vi. 14-29, intro- 
duced in both cases with the statement that Herod, hearing the fame 
of Jesus, concluded that John was risen from the dead (comp. Luke 
ix. 7-9). Matthew relates that John's disciples, having buried his 
corpse, brought the tidings of his death to Jesus, and that after 
hearing of it, 'Jesus departed thence by ship into a desert place 
apart ' (Matt. xiv. 12,1 3). Mark and Luke state this retreat to the 
desert to have been in company with the twelve, immediately on 
their return from their mission (Mark vi. 30-32 ; Luke ix. 10).' 

All that can confidently be said is that John's death occurred 
towards the close of the second year of our Lord's ministry ; and we 
incline to the view that the imprisonment had lasted but a brief 
period. 



Philippi as a Colony. 



ACTS xvi. 12 : ' And from thence to Philippi, which is a city of Macedonia, the 
first of the district, a Roman colony.' 

Question. In what sense was Philippi a colony, and what signifi- 
cance attaches to the mention of the fact? 

It is singular that St. Paul should appeal to his rights as a Roman 
citizen, and that the magistrates of Philippi should be so gravely 
anxious when they found out that they had scourged a Roman 
citizen. St. Paul's appeal, and the alarm of the magistrates, are 
only explained by the fact that Philippi enjoyed the privileges of a 
Roman colony. 

The references to Philippi in contemporary profane history are 
but slight. It received its name from Philip, King of Macedonia, 
father of Alexander the Great, who rebuilt and fortified it. Its fame 
was increased by the defeat in its neighbourhood of Brutus and 
Cassius by Augustus Caesar and Antony in the year B.C. 42. 

Pliny, the celebrated heathen historian, who flourished in the same 
century as Luke, and who could not be suspected of any sympathy 
with him or his despised religion, makes mention of Philippi as a 
colony. And a number of coins have been found, some testifying of 
Philippi under the character of a colony, and one in particular stating 
that Julius Caesar himself bestowed on this city the dignity and 
privileges of a Roman colony, which was afterwards confirmed and 
augmented by Augustus. The full title, ' Colonia Augusta Julia 
Victrix Philippensium,' is found on inscriptions. 

Archdeacon Farrar sums up briefly the history of this town, and 
gives an explanation of the relation in which it stood to neighbouring 
towns. (Its being called the chief city, as in A.V., has occasioned 



i9o HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

difficulty, as it was in no sense a capital.) 'The city of Philippi was 
a monumental record of two vast empires. It had once been an 
obscure place, called Krenides from its streams and springs; but 
Philip, the father of Alexander, had made it a frontier town to protect 
Macedonia from the Thracians, and had helped to establish its 
power by the extremely profitable working of its neighbouring gold 
mines. Augustus, proud of the victory over Brutus and Cassius 
won at the foot of the hill on which it stands, and on the summit of 
which Cassius had committed suicide elevated it to the rank of a 
colony, which made it, as St. Luke calls it, if not the first, yet certainly 
" a first city of that district of Macedonia." ' (Bishop Wordsworth 
reads: 'the chief city of the frontier of Macedonia.') 'And this, 
probably, was why St. Paul went directly to it. When Perseus, the 
last successor of Alexander, had been routed at Pydna (June 22, 
B.C. 1 68), Macedonia had been reduced to a Roman province in four 
divisions. These, in accordance with the astute and Machiavellic 
policy of Rome, were kept distinct from each other by differences of 
privilege and isolation of interests which tended to foster mutual 
jealousies. Beginning eastwards at the river Nestus, Macedonia 
Prima reached to the Strymon, Macedonia Secunda to the Axius, 
Macedonia Tertia to the Peneus, and Macedonia Quarta to Illyricum 
and Epirus. (So says Livy.) The capitals of these divisions respec- 
tively were Amphipolis, Thessalonica at which the Proconsul of the 
entire province fixed his residence Pella, and Pelagonia. It is a 
very reasonable conjecture that Paul, in answer to the appeal of the 
vision, had originally intended to visit as, perhaps, he ultimately 
did visit all four capitals. But Amphipolis, in spite of its historic 
celebrity, had sunk into comparative insignificance, and the proud 
colonial privileges of Philippi made it in reality the more important 
town.' 

Conybeare and How son 'give the characteristic features of a ' colony,' 
which was a miniature resemblance of Rome, its citizens sharing in 
the privileges of the citizens of Rome. ' The city of Rome might be 
transplanted, as it were, into various parts of the empire, and repro- 
duced as a colonia ; or an alien city might be adopted, under the 
title of a municipium* into a close political communion with Rome. 
A Roman colony was very different from anything which we usually 
intend by the term. It was no mere mercantile factory, such as 
those which the Phoenicians established in Spain, or on those very 
shores of Macedonia with which we are now engaged, or such as 
modern nations have founded in the Hudson's Bay Territory, or on 
* A colonia was Rome transplanted : a municipium was an alien city adopted. 



PHILIPPI AS A COLONY. 191 

the coast of India. Still less was it like those incoherent aggregates 
of human beings which we have thrown, without care or system, on 
distant islands and continents. It did not even go forth, as a young 
Greek republic left its parent state, carrying with it, indeed, the 
respect of a daughter for a mother, but entering upon a new and in- 
dependent existence. The Roman colonies were primarily intended 
as military safeguards of the frontiers, and as checks upon insurgent 
provincials. Like the military roads, they were part of the great 
system of fortification by which the Empire was made safe. They 
served also as convenient possessions for rewarding veterans who had 
served in the wars, and for establishing freedmen and other Italians 
whom it was desirable to remove to a distance. The colonists went 
out with all the pride of Roman citizens to represent and reproduce 
the city in the midst of an alien population. Though the colonists, in 
addition to the poll tax which they paid as citizens, were compelled 
to pay- a ground tax (for the land on which their city stood was pro- 
vincial land, and therefore tributary, unless it were assimilated to 
Italy by a special exemption), yet they were entirely free from any 
intrusion by the governor of the province. Their affairs were regu- 
lated by their own magistrates. These officers were named Duum- 
viri, and they took a pride in calling themselves by the Roman title 
of Praetors (strategoi)' 

1 By the Lex Portia (B.C. 247), Roman citizens were exempted from 
degrading punishment, such as that of scourging. It was the heaviest 
of all the charges brought by Cicero against Verres, the Governor of 
Sicily, that he had broken this law. The words avis Romanus sum 
(I am a Roman citizen) acted almost like a charm in stopping the 
violence of provincial magistrates. These strategoi at Philippi, when 
they found the prisoners were Romans, evidently did not consider 
that their ignorance would be regarded as a sufficient defence. They 
had acted illegally, and the consequence of that illegality went 
further than they counted on ; but they could not, therefore, shake 
off their responsibility. They were liable to a prosecution.' (Dean 
Plump tre.} 

History of Jewish Stoning. 

ACTS vii. 59 : ' And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord 
Jesus, receive my spirit.' 

Question. How was it that the Sanhedrin could do with Stephen 
as they dare not do with the Lord Jesus Christ ? 

Answer. In all probability, the absence of the Roman procurator 
made this tumultuous stoning possible. If this is not a satisfactory 



192 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

explanation and some may say, that the Roman authority would be 
delegated to somebody, if the governor was absent then we may 
regard the riot as an unexpected tumult, and both the people and the 
Sanhedrin acted under powerful and sudden excitement, without 
thinking of the consequences of their act. Then we must suppose 
that the authorities would make necessary explanations to the Roman 
ruler after the deed was done, excusing themselves on the ground of 
the uncontrollable excitement of the people. 

Dean Plumptre says : ' The violence reported presents a singular 
contrast to the general observance of the forms of a fair trial in our 
Lord's condemnation. Then, however, we must remember, the 
Roman procurator was present in Jerusalem. Now, all restraint was 
removed, and fanaticism had full play. That neither office nor age 
was enough to guard, under such conditions, against shameful out- 
rage has been seen even in the history of Christian assemblies, as, 
e.g., in that of the Robber Synod of Ephesus, in A.D. 449. The facts 
in this case seem to imply that the accusers, and perhaps also the 
excited crowd which they represented, were present as listening to 
the speech, as well as the members of the Sanhedrin.' 

To understand how such an informal execution could be possible, 
it is necessary to remember that there were two kinds of stoning 
permissible; an official stoning, and a tumultuous stoning. The 
methods of these differed in some important respects. 

( Stoning to death was the ordinary capital punishment among the 
Jews, just as much as hanging is with us, decapitation in France and 
Germany, and strangulation in Spain. The manner of execution was 
as follows : A crier marched before the man who was to die, pro- 
claiming his offence, and the names of the witnesses on whose 
testimony he had been committed. This was for the humane 
purpose of enabling anyone, possessing knowledge of the parties and 
the circumstances, to come forward and arrest the execution until 
his further evidence had been heard and considered. Hence, usually, 
the tribunal which had sentenced the prisoner remained sitting to 
hear such evidence as might thus be produced, and did not rise 
until certified that the execution had taken place. The place of 
execution was always outside the town. Arrived at the place, the 
convict was divested of his clothing, except a small covering about 
the loins ; and, his hands being bound, he was taken to the top of 
some eminence a tower, a building, or a cliff not less than twice a 
man's height. When the top was reached, the witnesses laid their 
hands upon him, and then cast off their upper clothing, that they 
might be the more ready for the active exertion their position imposed 



HISTORY OF JEWISH STONING. 193 

being virtually that of executing the sentence which had been the 
esult of their evidence. All being thus ready, one of the witnesses 
:ast the condemned down from that high place with great violence, 
endeavouring to do it so that he should fall upon a large stone, which 
vvas designedly placed below. The fall usually rendered him in- 
sensible, if it did not kill him ; but if he was not dead, those below 
turned him upon his back, and then the other witnesses, remaining 
above, cast down a large stone aimed at the chest. This stroke was 
generally mortal ; but if not, the people below hastened to cast 
stones at him till no life remained. Thus the execution was quickly 
over, and was attended by fewer revolting circumstances than must 
have ensued from that indiscriminate pelting by the people, which is 
commonly supposed to have constituted the stoning to death.' 
(From Kitto.) 

There are also many examples of a more tumultuous kind of 
stoning, when, without judicial procedure, the people seized stones at 
once to put to death those whom they deemed guilty of flagrant 
crime. This is said to have been called the ' Rebel's beating ' : and 
it appears to have been regarded as permissible in the case of 
blasphemy, when a sudden vindication of the dishonoured name of 
God seemed to be called for, and aroused feeling could not wait for 
any judicial process. In some cases, such as that of Naboth and 
that of Stephen, the tumultuous and the judicial seem to be 
blended : the forms of law merely giving a kind of sanction to the 
popular, or class, excitement. Of manifestly tumultuous stonings we 
may mention that of Adoram, tribute-master to Rehoboam. ' Then 
King Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was over the tribute ; and all 
Israel stoned him with stones that he died' (i Kings xii. 18). Of 
our Lord it is said, 'Then took they up stones 10 cast at Him/ 
' Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him.' And in a riot 
raised at Lystra by certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, the 
people ' stoned Paul, and drew him out of the city, supposing he had 
been dead ' (Acts xiv. 19). 

1 It is noticeable that we first hear of death by stoning in the 
deserts of stony Arabia ; this mode having been suggested probably 
by the abundance of stones, and the fatal effect with which they were 
often employed in broils among the people.' What seems probable 
is, that at first the people merely pelted the bound criminal with the 
stones lying about until he died. But as this was found to excite 
passion, and lead to painful and demoralising scenes, the execu- 
tions were regulated, and subjected to orderly arrangements, the 
object of which was to bring the criminal to his end as expedi- 

'3 



i 9 4 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

tiously as possible, and to divest the punishment of a tumultuary 
aspect 

Kitto points out the tumultuous character of the proceedings in the 
case of Stephen. 'The defence itself is interrupted by the un- 
governable rage of those who heard it ; and when Stephen declared 
that he saw Jesus standing at God's right hand, they stayed to hear 
no more, but rushed upon him, and hurried him away to death. The 
matter reached a point at which they might have felt authorised to 
act without the usual formalities. The words Stephen uttered sounded 
in their ears as rank blasphemy ; and, when that was the case, the 
Jews seem always to have been ready to stone a man on the spot 
without any trial.' 

There is nothing, therefore, in so unusual a case as this, incon- 
sistent with the view that the Romans had divested the Sanhedrin 
of the sovereign power of inflicting capital punishment 



Precise Date of the Last Supper. 

MATTHEW xxvi. 17 : 'Now on the first day of unleavened bread the disciples 
came to Jesus, saying, Where wilt Thou that we make ready for Thee to eat the 
Passover ?' 

Difficulty. A comparison of the Gospel records leaves us uncertain 
whether the usual Passover-day was anticipated on this occasion or 
not. 

Explanation. We shall see precisely what this difficulty is if 
we put together the passages referring to the matter from the four 
Gospels, giving them in the Revised Version. 

Besides the text given above, as the heading of this paragraph, 
Matthew says : * Now when even was come ' (evidently, even of the 
' first of unleavened bread '), ' He was sitting at meat with the twelve 
disciples.' The day following was clearly not one of the feast days, 
since the arrest and trial and crucifixion were all completed before 
the sacred festal Sabbath day began. 

But this suggests some further inquiries. Was the Passover meal 
always the eve of a Sabbath day ? or did it only so happen on this 
particular year? If all the people observed the Passover on the 
same day as Jesus and His disciples did, we are landed in this very 
practical difficulty the feast-time then began, and the next day was 
a sacred feast day ; and we know that the high priest's party advised 
strongly against arresting Jesus '* on the feast day,' lest there should 
be an uproar of the people (Matt. xxvi. 5). 

On the face of it, the reasonable suggestion certainly is, that Christ 



PRECISE DATE OF THE LAST SUPPER. 195 

anticipated the usual Passover-time, and observed the ordinance a 
day earlier. Only in the light of very clear proofs can this, our first 
impression, be removed. 

Mark's references are precisely similar to those in Matthew. 

Luke is more precise. ' Now the feast of unleavened bread drew 
nigh, which is called the Passover.' ' And the day of unleavened bread 
came, on which the Passover must be sacrificed. And He sent Peter 
and John, saying, Go and make ready for us the Passover, that we 
may eat.' We should certainly gather from this that the day was 
the usual day, and that our Lord kept the Passover when everybody 
else kept it. 

John's record creates the great difficulty. Writing of procedures 
after the examination of Christ before the Sanhedrin, he says : ' They 
lead Jesus, therefore, from Caiaphas into the palace : and it was 
early ; and they themselves entered not into the palace, that they 
might not be defiled, but might eat the Passover.' The chief priests 
and the members of the Sanhedrin could not have partaken of the 
Passover at the same time as Jesus and His disciples, for it is clearly 
stated that they were anxiously keeping themselves undefined in 
expectation of eating the Passover that night. 

Matthew and John, the Evangelists who had personal knowledge 
of Christ's doings, and Mark, who represents Peter, who also had 
personal knowledge, can be fitted to the idea that our Lord antici- 
pated the usual day, and held His Passover on the day previously. 
Luke's materials are second-hand, and if .there is lack of precision 
anywhere, we may expect it in his collection rather than in the remini- 
scences of his fellow-Evangelists. But, examining Luke's expression 
carefully, we find it is more general than it appeared at first sight. 
His reference is fully satisfied if we take him to mean ' a day of 
unleavened bread,' ' the time of the Passover sacrifice.' 

This difficulty has been elaborately discussed by many Bible 
writers, but it will be of practical service to our readers if we take 
out the chief matters of fact and of argument, and present them as 
clearly and briefly as possible. 

Dean Mansel carefully explains what may be meant by ' the first 
(day) of unleavened bread ' : ' Legally, the first day of unleavened 
bread was the fifteenth day of Nisan or Abib, commencing on the 
evening of the fourteenth day, after the Paschal lamb was eaten ; and 
the feast of unleavened bread lasted seven days, till the evening of 
the twenty-first day of the month. Josephus speaks of the feast of 
unleavened bread as beginning on the fifteenth day of the month, 
the legal day commencing after sunset. But the day meant in Matt. 

132 



196 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

xxvi. 17 is clearly the fourteenth, being that on which the Passover 
was slain (Mark xiv. 12 ; Luke xxii. 7), which is also spoken of by 
Josephus in another place as the beginning of the feast of unleavened 
bread. On this day it was usual, though not necessary, to abstain 
from leaven ; and by including it, the feast was sometimes reckoned 
as lasting eight days. A question may arise respecting the part of 
the day to which the Evangelist's words refer. If to the legal begin- 
ning i.e., to the evening following the sunset of the thirteenth it is 
possible that the preparation might be made, and the Passover eaten 
by our Lord and His disciples a day earlier than the usual time. 
And this is, perhaps, the most natural mode of reconciling the 
account of the Synoptists with that of St. John.' ' According to the 
Mishna, it was customary in Judaea to work till noon on the day pre- 
ceding the Passover i.e., Nisan 14 whereas in Galilee no work at 
all was done on that day, though the schools of Shammai and Hillel 
differed as to the lawfulness of work on the preceding evening. If 
this statement represents the practice in our Saviour's time, it would 
be natural for the disciples, who were Galilaeans, even if they took 
the more liberal view as regards the evening, to commence their pre- 
paration immediately after sunset on the thirteenth i.e., at the legal 
commencement of the fourteenth though the Jews of Judaea might 
postpone their task till the following morning. The disciples, in 
asking their question, may have had a view to a Passover to be eaten 
on the following day, though our Lord Himself gave directions for its 
being eaten the same evening.' 

Dr. E. R. Conder argues strongly for our Lord's observance of the 
Passover on the usual day, Nisan 14, and endeavours to explain how 
it is that John fixes the day of the Crucifixion as Nisan 14, the day 
on which the Paschal lambs were sacrificed, so that the Last Supper 
took place on the evening of Nisan 13. His arguments do not, how 
ever, appear conclusive ; and the difficulty seems to us to be insuper 
able, that if the priest-party had already kept their Passover, the) 
could not possibly be anxious not to defile themselves, and so rendei 
themselves unfitted for keeping the feast. It is certainly easier tc 
think of our Lord as adjusting Himself to circumstances He fore 
knew than to explain away the very distinct references made by th< 
Apostle John. 

Carr says : ' The events of the Passover are full of difficulty fo: 
the harmonist. It is, however, almost certain that the " Last Supper ; 
was not the Paschal meal, but was partaken of on the fourteenth 
that is, after sunset on Nisan 13. It is quite certain from Johr 
xviii. 28 that Jesus was crucified on the preparation, and althougl 



PRECISE DATE OF THE LAST SUPPER. 197 

ic Synoptic narratives seem at first sight to disagree with this, it is 
robably only the want of a complete knowledge of the facts that 
reates the apparent discrepancy.' 

Edersheim treats almost with scorn the bare idea that the feast 
ept by our Lord could be any other than the ordinary Paschal feast, 
le says : * St. Luke's account of what actually happened, being in 
ome points the most explicit, requires to be carefully studied, and 
hat without thought of any possible consequences in regard to the 
larmony of the Gospels. It is almost impossible to imagine any- 
hing more evident than that he wishes us to understand that Jesus 
vas about to celebrate the ordinary Jewish Paschal supper. " And 
he day of unleavened bread came, on which the Passover must be 
acrificed." The designation is exactly that of the commencement 
>f the Pascha, which was Nisan 14, and the description that of the 
;laying of the Paschal lamb. What follows is in exact accordance 
vith it : " And He sent Peter and John, saying, Go and make ready 
or us the Pascha, that we may eat it." Then occur these three 
lotices in the same account : " And . . . they made ready the 
Pascha " ; " and when the hour was come, He reclined " (as usual at 
he Paschal supper), "and the Apostles with Him"; and finally, 
:hese words of His : " With desire I have desired to eat this Pascha 
vith you." And with this fully agrees the language of the other two 
synoptists, St. Matt. xxvi. 17-20 ; St. Mark xiv. 12-17. No ingenuity 
:an explain away these facts. The suggestion that in that year the 
Sanhedrin had postponed the Paschal supper from Thursday evening 
'Nisan 14-15) to Friday evening (Nisan 15-16), so as to avoid the 
Sabbath following on the first day of the feast, and that the Paschal 
amb was therefore in that year eaten on Friday, the evening of the 
day on which Jesus was crucified, is an assumption void of all 
support in history or Jewish tradition. Equally untenable is it that 
Christ had held the Paschal supper a day in advance of that observed 
by the rest of the Jewish world a supposition not only inconsistent 
with the plain language of the Synoptists, but impossible, since the 
Paschal lamb could not have been offered in the Temple, and, there- 
fore, no Paschal supper held, out of the regular time.' 

The subject is too controversial for further consideration here. It 
is certainly not possible to reconcile the references made in the four 
Gospels without some accommodation, and it seems to be St. Luke's 
Gospel that really occasions the difficulty. The most hopeful plan 
is to follow the lead of St. John, and then read the two earlier Evan- 
gelists in the light of St. John's references, subjecting St. Luke to the 
necessary accommodation, in view of the fact that St. Luke's materials 



198 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

were wholly documentary and traditional. If there is lack of pre- 
cision in the details of such a matter, we should naturally expect to 
find it in the Gospel that was prepared for the use of Gentiles, 
rather than of Jews, and by one whom we have no reason to think 
was a born Jew. 

The History of Crucifixion. 

MATTHEW xxvii. 35 : ' And they crucified Him.' 

Difficulty. It seems strange that the Jewish rulers should have 
chosen for Jesus a distinctly foreign method of execution. 

Explanation. Crucifixion was certainly a foreign invention, and 
it was never naturalized among the Jews. There are traces of its 
infliction by the Persians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Carthaginians, 
Indians, Scythians, Greeks, and Macedonians. Among the Romans 
it prevailed from very early times down to the reign of Constantine the 
Great, by whom it was abolished. Crucifixion should be distinguished 
from gibbeting, which was an exposure of the body after death. 

Edersheim thinks that crucifixion was of Phoenician origin, although 
Rome adopted and improved on it. ' Crucifixion was not a Jewish 
mode of punishment, although the King Jannaeus had so far forgotten 
the claims of both humanity and religion as on one occasion to 
crucify not less than eight hundred persons in Jerusalem itself. But 
even Herod the Great, with all his cruelty, did not resort to this 
mode of execution. It seems especially to characterise the domination 
of Rome in Judaea under every governor.' This is to be particularly 
noticed. It was the fate reserved for rebels against the Roman rule, 
and though Pilate repudiated the idea of Jesus being a rebel, he 
condemned Him as such, and He was therefore executed in the 
manner that such a rebel would be. The Jewish modes of execution 
were strangulation, beheading, burning, and stoning. 

The Jewish enemies of our Lord were actuated by very mixed 
motives in desiring that Christ should be crucified, but their chief 
purpose was to relieve themselves from the responsibility of His 
death in the view of the people. They could always say : ' We did 
not put Him to death ; the Roman governor executed Him. See, He 
did not die in any of our Jewish methods.' And they were also quite 
willing to take advantage of the common sentiment concerning cruci 
fixion, which was regarded as not only the most dreadful of deaths, 
but also the most disgraceful ; a kind of death reserved for slaves, 
and the vilest criminals. Christ's enemies were glad thus to put up 
to public shame the claims of the Nazarene impostor, as they re- 



THE HISTOR Y OF CRUCIFIXION. 199 

garded Him; and the exhibition of suffering helplessness on the 
cross they thought would settle for ever the pretensions of the new 
Messiah. 

The sentiment concerning crucifixion, of which the enemies of 
Christ took ready advantage, is illustrated in the oldest pictorial 
representations that are extant. There is a picture of the Crucifixion 
in a Syrian Evangelarium, of the date A.D. 586, in the Laurentian 
Library at Florence. The treatment of the subject is exceedingly 
rude, bordering on the grotesque. The figure of our Lord is crowned 
with a nimbus, and clothed with a long purple robe. The soldiers 
on the ground are casting lots for His garments, and the sun and 
moon look down on the scene. 

A few years since a drawing representing the Crucified was found 
upon the walls of the ancient palace of the Caesars at Rome. Some 
heathen servant of the emperor is taunting his Christian fellow- 
servant with this contemptuous sign. The relic belongs to about the 
year A.D. 200, and is by far the most ancient crucifix we know of. 
But this, the oldest known crucifix, is an ironical one. It is a cari- 
cature of Christ, before which a Christian stands worshipping, and it 
bears the inscription : ' Alexamenos,' the name of the derided 
Christian, ' worshipping his God.' 

The infamy of crucifixion is still preserved in the reproachful name 
Talui, in which the Talmud speaks of Jesus ; and also ' Worshippers 
of the Hung,' which they apply to Christians, though, according to 
their fable, He was first stoned, and then hung on a tree. 

Geikie's note contains some points of additional interest, and helps 
to explain the adoption of this method of execution in the case of 
Jesus. ' Death by the cross was the most terrible and the most 
dreaded and shameful punishment of antiquity a punishment, the 
very name of which, Cicero tells us, should never come near the 
thoughts, the eyes, or ears, of a Roman citizen, far less his person. 
It was of Eastern origin, and had been in use among the Persians 
and Carthaginians long before its employment in Western countries. 
Alexander the Great adopted it in Palestine, from the Phoenicians, 
after the defence of Tyre, which he punished by crucifying two 
thousand citizens, after the place had surrendered. Crassus signalized 
its introduction into Roman use by lining the road from Capua to 
Rome with crucified slaves, captured in the revolt of Spartacus, and 
Augustus finally inaugurated its general use by crucifying six thou- 
sand slaves at once, in Sicily, in his suppression of the war raised by 
Sextus Pompeius.' 

' It was not a Jewish punishment, for the cases mentioned in the 



200 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

Old Testament of " hanging up " criminals or offenders refer only to 
their dead bodies, or were imitations of the heathen custom by some 
of the kings. For Jews to crucify a Jew, indeed, would have been 
impossible, as the national sentiment would have revolted from it. 
The cruelty of heathenism had to be called in by the corrupt and 
sunken priesthood, before such a death could be inflicted on any 
member of the nation, far less on one declared by the Procurator 
himself to be innocent. It was the punishment inflicted by heathenism 
which knew no compassion or reverence for man as man on the 
worst criminals, on highway robbers, rebels, and slaves, or on pro- 
vincials, who, in the eye of Rome, were only slaves, if they fell into 
crime.' 

By some writers the demand to crucify Jesus, as made by Jewish 
priests, by the Jewish Sanhedrin, and, under their leading, by the 
Jewish mob, is taken as indicating the state of wild and unreasoning 
excitement into which they had worked themselves, through fear that 
they would not be able to overcome the scruples of Pilate. 'The 
cry, " Crucify Him !" twice repeated deliberately and fiercely, shows 
more than common fury. This terrible word shows how thoroughly 
the evil passions of the people were excited. The death which the 
people deliberately chose for their King was that of a slave, of a 
criminal handed over to their secular and detested rulers.' 

In the estimate of motives a place should also be given to another 
view, which we have not found elsewhere noticed. As the feast was 
so closely approaching, the priest-party would have been in extreme 
difficulty if Pilate had handed Jesus back to them to be executed in 
a Jewish mode. They must have kept Jesus over the feast, and that 
involved two perils excitement would have died down, and public 
opinion in His favour would be aroused. The Romans might do 
what they could not do, lest they should defile themselves, and unfit 
themselves for the feast. So the Romans executed Jesus. 



Chronology in Stephen's Speech. 

ACTS vii. 6 : ' And God spake on this wise, that His seed should sojourn in a 
strange land ; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil 
four hundred years.' 

Difficulty. This l four hundred years ' cannot be verified by the 
early records on any chronological system. 

Explanation. It is unreasonable to look for historical or 
chronological precision in a prisoner's defence, uttered on sudden 
impulse under great excitement, and without any possibility of 



CHRONOLOGY IN STEPHEN'S SPEECH. 201 

verifying any statements that might be made under the pressure of 
passing emotion. None of us, under such circumstances, could 
ensure the correctness of our memory of historical details ; and 
especially of details which we only wanted to use in a general way 
for purposes of illustration. So far as Stephen's purpose in his 
defence is concerned, it does not matter whether the number ' four 
hundred ' is exact or not, because he only uses it casually, and as 
equivalent to ' a long period.' 

The note given in the * Speaker's Commentary ' puts clearly and 
succinctly all that need be said on a subject which has caused much 
discussion : * This verse 6 and the following verse are quoted, not 
with verbal exactness, from Gen. xv. 13, 14, according to the LXX. 
A parenthesis marked after the words land and evil would make it 
clear that the four hundred years are the length of the entire time 
throughout which Abraham and his descendants were to be sojourners 
that is, to have no country which they could call their own. The 
Egyptian servitude did not begin until after the death of Joseph, 
and did not exceed two hundred and fifteen years. If the calcula- 
tion is made from the weaning of Isaac, the interval is exactly four 
hundred years. In speaking, the round number of the prediction 
was used instead of the precise total of four hundred and thirty 
years, which is given in the historical statement, Exod. xii. 40, quoted 
Gal. iii. 17, which the received chronology makes to be the interval 
between Abraham's going down into Egypt and the Exodus. The 
same variation is found in Josephus, who states, II. xv. 2, that the 
Israelites quitted Egypt in the four hundred and thirtieth year ; but 
in II. ix. i, and in a report of a speech of his own, J. W., V. ix. 4, 
gives four hundred years as the length of their stay in Egypt. 
Between Jacob's going down into Egypt and the Exodus, Josephus 
reckoned two hundred and fifteen years, II. xv. 2. Isaac was born 
twenty-five years after Abraham's arrival in Canaan, was sixty years 
old at the birth of his twin sons, and Jacob was one hundred and 
thirty when he went down into' Egypt, 25 + 60 + 130 = 215. Again, 
from Jacob's going down into Egypt until the death of Joseph was 
an interval of seventy-one years; thence till the birth of Moses 
sixty-four years ; and thence again till the Exodus eighty years, 
71+64 + 80 = 215. 

It should be noticed that, as a quotation, Stephen's sentence is 
precisely correct. Quoting a passage does not necessarily involve 
even a belief in its correctness. Gen. xv. 13 reads : 'And they shall 
afflict them four hundred years.' 



202 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 



The History of the Sanhedrin. 

MATTHEW xxvi. 3 : ' Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes 
and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called 
Caiaphas.' 

Question. Does the history of the Sanhedrin enable us to decide 
the measure of authority and influence it had, and its composition, in 
the time of Christ ? 

Answer. There seems to be some uncertainty as to the origin 
of the Sanhedrin, Wieseler arguing that it was a Roman institution. 
Edersheim traces the Sanhedrin back to the time of Hyrcanus, and 
finds its origin in the ' eldership,' which, under the earlier Maccabees, 
was called ' the tribunal of the Asmonaeans.' He thinks its power 
varied according to surrounding political conditions, and that, though 
at times absolute, it was usually shorn of all but ecclesiastical 
authority. The Jews find its origin in the appointment of the seventy 
elders by Moses (Num. xi. 16, 17, 24, 25). But that appointment 
seems to have borne a strictly local and temporary character. No 
further notice of such a body is found in the Old Testament. The 
earliest mention of a council at all like the Sanhedrin is found in the 
Apocrypha (see II. Mace. i. 10 ; iv. 44; xi. 27). It is probable, 
therefore, that it was constituted after the return from Babylon ; and 
the name, Sanhedrin, is of Greek derivation, implying 'a body of 
assessors.' In the Mishna it is called Beth-din, or 'house of 
judgment.' 

Dr. Edmond Stapfer summarises the information that is at com- 
mand : ' In the first century, the administration of public affairs and 
of justice was divided between the procurators and tetrarchs on the 
one hand and the local authorities on the other. It is sometimes 
difficult to fix the limits of their respective functions. Subject to the 
supreme jurisdiction of the procurators, however, the Sanhedrin of 
Jerusalem was occupied almost exclusively with religious questions 
and internal affairs. This Sanhedrin was a permanent assembly, a 
senate, having its seat at Jerusalem. Its powers had been very 
extensive under the Maccabees. It is needless to say that Jewish 
tradition traced back its institution to Moses, and held that it was 
clearly set forth in the law ; but it is equally needless to say that 
there was nothing in common between the Sanhedrin and the men 
of whom Moses speaks, who were chosen as representatives of the 
people. Nor is there any connection between this assembly and that 
subsequently formed. Even under Ezra, the Sanhedrin had as yet 
no existence. Ezra created what is called " the Great Synagogue," 



THE HISTORY OF THE SANHEDRIN. 203 

an improper term, which confounds that institution with the 
Synagogues properly so-called. It should rather be "the Great 
Assembly." This lasted until the year 300 B.C. It was a college of 
scribes to settle questions of theology. The Sanhedrin, on the con- 
trary, was a governing body. We find the first traces of its existence 
under Antiochus Epiphanes (223-187 B.C.). Josephus speaks indeed 
of a gerousia, or senate^ which was then acting. It is possible, there- 
fore, that the Ptolemies may have permitted the Jews to form a 
Sanhedrin, in order to gain their affection by permitting them the 
semblance of self-government. But the power of this assembly must 
have been very limited under their administration and that of the 
Seleucidae. It is evident that only under the Asmonaeans can this 
gerousia have become powerful. From 162 to 130 B.C. we find no 
mention of its existence. Everything indicates that it was Hyrcanus 
who, in 130 B.C., organised, or re-organised, the Sanhedrin. He 
made it a sort of national representation ; before this time the power 
belonged almost exclusively to the high priest. The Romans, when 
they took possession of Palestine (63 B.C.), allowed the Sanhedrin to 
remain, but curtailed its powers. 

'The Sanhedrin had an official existence in the first century under 
the Herods and the procurators. It met and deliberated, and had a 
semblance of authority. It had seventy-one members. This figure 
is given us in the Mishna. It is borrowed from the law, and can 
scarcely be disputed. Josephus confirms it when he says that he 
established in Galilee a council of seventy elders, after the pattern of 
that in Jerusalem. The president was the seventy-first. 

' The New Testament distinguishes, in this assembly, between the 
"High priests," the "Elders," and the "Scribes." The Mishna 
also gives us a similar division : " The Sanhedrin is composed," it 
says, " of priests, Levites, and Israelites whose daughters are per- 
mitted to marry the priests." By this last expression it means 
Israelites who, by producing their genealogical tables, could prove 
the purity of their Jewish origin. Such members were found in all 
classes of society. The majority of the Sanhedrin were Sadducees. 
All the priests, among others, were Sadducees, and it was a rare thing 
in the first century to find a priest who was a Pharisee. 

* The functions of the Sanhedrin were very numerous. It passed 
the laws, and was therefore a legislative body. It executed justice, 
and possessed the most extensive judicial powers. Before its tribunal 
false prophets were arraigned. It dealt with questions of doctrine, 
and when occasion arose could exercise the functions of a council. 
It was, moreover, charged with certain details of great importance at 



204 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

this period. It watched over the priestly families, and controlled the 
marriages made in them. It kept in its archives the genealogical 
tables of the principal priests' families. It authorised wars, fixed the 
limits of towns, and alone had the power of modifying their precincts 
and those of the Temple. It settled the calendar and the new 
moons ; this duty devolved on the president and three members. In 
brief, it was at once parliament and council.' 

Stapfer points out that the right of capital punishment was not 
really taken away from the Sanhedrin ; the Sanhedrin itself re- 
nounced it. ' The Romans did not precisely take it away ; but, for 
very weakness, the Sanhedrin dared no longer condemn and execute 
the brigands, Sicarii, and fanatic zealots, the more as their attempts 
had often a religious and patriotic intent. The people might have 
accused it of striking down patriots whose sole crime was that they 
sought to deliver their country. ' ' The Sanhedrin did not dare take 
upon itself alone the responsibility of our Lord's execution, for they 
knew that Jesus had been at one time very popular. They therefore 
begged Pilate to support them. The saying, "It is not lawful for 
us to put anyone to death," was not so much the expression of a 
truth as a flattery of the governor.' They did, subsequently, put 
Stephen to death. Two passages in the Talmud prove that the San- 
hedrin retained the power of life and death subsequent to the time 
of Christ. 

The Herodians. 

MARK iii. 6 : ' And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with 
the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.' 

Question. Can we discover any reason for the special enmity 
shown by this party to Christ ? 

Answer. Two explanations of the position and relations of the 
Herodians have been given. Following a conjecture of Origen's, 
some say that, as supporters of the family of Herod, who held their 
dominions by the grant of the Roman Emperor, they would be in 
favour of paying tribute to the supreme power. Others think they 
were an intensely patriotic party, who were supporters of the Herodian 
family as the last hope of retaining for the Jews a fragment of national 
government as distinguished from absolute dependence upon Rome, 
as a province of the empire. This view is advanced by Grotius, and 
supported by Meyer and Ewald. According to this view, the Phari- 
sees and Herodians, however differing in other respects, were united 
in antagonism to the absolute dominion of Rome. 



THE HERODIANS. 205 

Little or nothing is known of this party save through the references 
in the Gospels. They could not have been rigid observers of the 
Mosaic ordinances, but inclined to approve of that approximation of 
Judaism to heathen civilisation, of which the Herodian family were 
the chief representatives. * Their leaven, or influence, though rather 
political than religious, would in its tendency coincide with that of 
the Sadducees, the freethinkers of Judaism.' 

Edersheim says : ' We know comparatively little of the deeper 
political movements in Judaea, only so much as it has suited Jose- 
phus to record. But we cannot be greatly mistaken in regarding the 
Herodians as a party which honestly accepted the house of Herod as 
occupants of the Jewish throne. Differing from the extreme section 
of the Pharisees, who hated Herod, and from the ' Nationalists,' it 
might have been a middle, or moderate Jewish party, semi-Roman, 
and semi-Nationalist. We know that it was the ambition of Herod 
Antipas again to unite under his sway the whole of Palestine ; but we 
know not what intrigues may have been carried on for that purpose, 
alike with the Pharisees and the Romans.' 

Dr. E. Stapfer says the Herodians are only mentioned three times 
in the Gospels (Matt. xxii. 16 ; Mark iii. 6 ; xii. 13). ' Josephus does 
not mention them. They were probably the same as the Boethusim, 
the descendants of Boethus, grandfather of Mariamne Maccabeus t 
third wife of Herod, and were, therefore, members of his family. 
They were Sadducees by their origin, since Boethus was a Sadducee. 
But it is probable that the majority of the Sadducees repudiated 
their anti-patriotic servility. These Herodians seem to have com- 
bined with some of the Pharisees to ensnare Jesus.' 



The Two Apostles named * James/ 

ACTS xii. 2 : * And he killed James, the brother of John, with the sword.' 
ACTS xv. 13 : ' And after they had held their peace, James answered.' 

Question. Can these two men be kept distinct ', and how are they 
related to the author of the Epistle ? 

Answer. The name 'James' is a later form of the familiar 
Hebrew name, 'Jacob,' and we need not be surprised to find it 
frequently occurring among any body of Hebrew men. There was 
constant repetition of the family name, or Christian name, as we 
should call it, and men were distinguished from one another by having 
their names associated with their fathers' names. They might be 
James, the son of Zebedee, or James, the son of Alphaeus. The 
father's name became, in fact, a >-name. 



206 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

In the New Testament there are seven references to persons 
named James, which may possibly refer to distinct individuals, (i) 
James, the son of Zebedee. (2) James, the son of Alphaeus, or 
.Cleopas. (3) James, the Lord's brother. (4) James, the son of 
Mary. (5) James the 'Less,' or the 'Little.' (6) James, the 
brother of Jude. (7) James, the first bishop of Jerusalem. 

These may be seven persons, but a little examination will suffice 
to show that they may represent only two persons. What is quite 
clear is, that James, the son of Zebedee, is distinct from James, the 
son of Alphaeus, seeing that both these men were members of the 
Apostolic company. From the list of men called James we can at once 
and clearly eliminate the son of Zebedee, because his individuality 
stands out prominently, and because he was martyred by Herod long 
before the Epistle which goes by the name of James could possibly 
have been written (A.D. 44). 

The identification of James the son of Alphaeus, and his relation to 
the Epistle, are the great difficulties. In the list of names above given, 
James, the son of Mary, is the same as James the son of Alphaeus, 
if Mary was the wife of Alphaeus. If this Mary was a sister of the 
Virgin Mary, then James would be the ' Lord's brother,' or near 
kinsman, in which sense the word * brother ' seems to be used. The 
same man might be the actual brother of Jude. He might be known 
by a sort of nickname, ' the Less/ because of his under size. And 
he might be recognised by his official position as ' bishop of Jeru- 
salem.' 

' By comparing St. Paul's description concerning numbers 4 and 7 
(above) in Gal. i. 19 ; and ii. 9-12, it is thought he must be referring 
to one and the same man ; let that be granted, therefore, to begin 
with. We may identify numbers 3 and 4 by the knowledge that 
James, the son of Mary, had a brother called Joses (Matt, xxvii. 56), 
and so also had James " the Lord's brother " (Matt. xiii. 55) and 
further we may consider numbers 3 and 6 identical, because each 
was brother to Jude (Mark vi. 3 ; Jude, verse i) ; James the Little, 
number 5, is clearly the same as the son of Mary, number 4. (Comp. 
Matt, xxvii. 56; Mark xv. 40; Luke xxiv. 10.) These might, it is 
true, be coincidences merely, and, when we remember the frequency 
of Hebrew names, seem insufficient for more than hypothesis. Thus 
far, then, numbers 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 are thought to be one and the 
same person the Apostle James, and he the Lord's brother.' There 
does not seem an insuperable difficulty in identifying him with James, 
the son of Alphaeus, seeing that he cannot be James, the son of 
Zebedee. 



THE TWO APOSTLES NAMED 'JAMES? 207 

A sketch of the career of these two men will best distinguish 
them. James, the son of Zebedee, was, with his younger brother 
John, engaged in the fishing trade, and they probably belonged to 
Bethsaida, on the Lake of Galilee. Both brothers were disciples of 
John the Baptist, and were, by him, pointed to Jesus. James was 
called, with his brother, to a personal attendance on Christ during 
our Lord's Galilean ministry. (Matt. iv. 21, 22 ; Mark i. 19, 20; 
Luke v. i-n.) Subsequently he was named one of the Apostles, 
and took rank among the leaders, being placed in the first group. 
The name Christ found for James and his brother, 'Sons of Thunder,' 
suggests an impetuous and zealous disposition, and this we may think 
of as more characteristic of the elder than of the younger brother. 
James, with his brother and Peter, was favoured by being permitted 
to attend our Lord on His raising the Ruler's daughter, at the Trans- 
figuration, and in Gethsemane. We can only suppose that, after our 
Lord's ascension, he shewed unusual, and almost excessive zeal, which 
gave him prominence among the Christian leaders, and made him 
the mark for Herod's sword. This James was martyred about the 
time of the Passover, A.D. 44. 

The other James, the son of Alphaeus, was not a fisherman. There 
is no reference to his call in the New Testament, but his name is 
given in each list of the Apostles, and he was favoured by the 
Saviour with a separate interview soon after the resurrection (i Cor. 
xv. 7). He was afterwards distinguished as one of the Apostles of 
the circumcision ; and he appears, soon after the death of Stephen, 
A.D. 34, to have been appointed president, or bishop, of the church 
at Jerusalem to have resided thenceforth in that city and to have 
presided at the council which was convened there A.D. 49. He 
maintained in Jerusalem and its neighbourbood such a reputation for 
sanctity as to acquire, even among his unbelieving countrymen, the 
honourable appellation of ' the Just.' But the high opinion that was 
entertained of his character did not suffice to save him from martyr- 
dom. According to an account which we receive from the middle 
of the second century, he was precipitated from an eminence or 
battlement of the Temple, standing upon which he had avowed, in 
the presence of an excited multitude, his faith in Christ ; and this 
not having terminated his life, he was afterwards stoned, and at last 
killed, while, kneeling down, he prayed God to forgive his murderers. 
This event occurred A.D. 62. 

If all the later references to James may be referred to James, the 
son of Alphaeus, we can have little doubt that he was the author of 
the Epistle. It is in perfect harmony with the impression that is left 



208 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

on us by the historical notices we have of him. The opening words 
of the Epistle do not help us : and it should not be forgotten that 
the Epistle itself only became recognised in the third century. If it 
was not written by this James, the son of Alphaeus, the author cannot 
be identified, and apostolic authority cannot be associated with it. 
The Epistle was first circulated among the Eastern churches ; in the 
course of the fourth century its authority was more and more widely 
acknowledged ; and in the fifth century its reception by the churches 
of both the East and the West became universal. 



The Lord's Brethren. 

MARK vi. 3 : ' Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, 
and Jose?, and Judas, and Simon 1 and are not his sisters here with us ? 

Question. Did the Jews express fannly relationships with suffi- 
cient precision to warrant us in thinking our Lord had younger brothers 
and sisters ? 

Answer. These so-called 'brethren' may have been either 
children of Joseph's before he married Mary ; children of Mary's, 
born after our Lord ; or children of near relatives of Mary, or of 
Joseph, who would in reality be ' cousins.' This third explanation is 
the one that is now recognised as the most probable; and it is 
thought that special reference is intended to Cleopas (or Alphaeus), 
whose wife Mary is called the sister of the Virgin (see John xix. 25), 
and whose four sons were named James, Joses, Simon (or Symeon), 
and Judas. Early tradition makes this Cleopas to be a brother of 
Joseph, the reputed father of Jesus ; and if this is true the four sons 
were cousins of Jesus both on the father and on the mother's side. 

It is pointed out that ' the term " brethren " is frequently used in 
Scripture of other near relatives : of Abram and Lot (Gen. xiv. 14), 
of Jacob and Laban (Gen. xxix. 12-15), of the cousins of Nadab and 
Abihu (Lev. x. 4), of uncles and their sons (Lev. xxv. 48, 49), and 
probably also of the uncles of Jeconias (see on Matt. i. u, Spk. 
Com.). So also Isaac calls Rebekah his sister (Gen. xxvi. 7), pro- 
bably because she was his cousin ; and the brethren of Ahaziah 
(2 Kings x. 13) are called the "sons of his brethren" (2 Chron. 
xxii. 8), and probably were in reality his cousins, the sons of the 
brethren of his father Jehoram, mentioned 2 Chron. xxi. 2, 4.' 

Dean Plumptre reviews the various theories and arguments, and 
says : ' On the whole, then, I incline to rest in the belief that the so- 
called " brethren " were cousins who, through some unrecorded 



THE LORD'S BRETHREN. 209 

circumstances, had been so far adopted into the household at 
Nazareth as to be known by the term of nearer relationship.' 

Rev. E. G. Punchard, M.A., in ' Ellicott's Commentary,' gives the 
different theories that have found favour. The terms * brother ' and 
1 brethren ' meet us so often in the New Testament, as applied to 
Jesus Christ, that we can hardly pass them by. Do they infer the 
strict and actual relationship, or one merely collateral ? 

(1) The Uterine or Helvidian Theory. Held by the advocates of 
the natural sense, that these men were the younger sons of Joseph 
and Mary. They urge the plain meaning of the Greek word adelphos^ 
i.e., brother, and deny its use figuratively. They point, moreover, to 
Matt. i. 25, and suppose from it the birth of other children in the 
holy family. Those who shrink from such a view are charged with 
sentiment, as impugners of marriage, and even with ideas more or 
less Manichaean concerning the impurity of matter. The German 
commentator Bleek, and Dean Alford and Dr. Davidson among 
ourselves, contend thus for the actual brotherhood, maintaining the 
theory originally propounded by Helvidius, a writer of the fourth 
century, answered by the great Augustine. 

(2) The Agnatic or Epiphanian Theory. A second class of divines 
are in accordance with the theory of Epiphanius, who was Bishop 
of Salamis, in Cyprus, towards the end of the fourth century, and no 
mean antagonist of the Helvidians. At the head of their modern 
representatives, yfov'/<? princeps for scholarship and fairness, is Canon 
Lightfoot. The ' brethren of the Lord ' are said to be sons of Joseph 
by a former wife, i.t. t before his espousal of the Virgin Mary, and 
are rightly termed adelphoi accordingly. Far from being of the number 
of the twelve, they were believers only after Christ's resurrection. 
Thus, then, are explained such texts as Matt. xii. 46 : Mark iii. 31 ; 
Luke viii. 19; John vii. 5. By this supposition, James, the 'Lord's 
brother,' must be a distinct person from ' James, the son of Alphaeus.' 

(3) The Collateral or Hieronymian Theory. There remains one 
proposition more, known, from the name of its foremost champion, 
Jerome, as the Hieronymian theory ; and this, on the whole, presents 
fewest difficulties to the religious mind. The sons of Alphaeus (or 
Cleopas ; the name is the same in different dialects) were the. cousins 
of our Lord, their mother and his being sisters ; and such a relation- 
ship would entirely justify the use of the word ' brethren.' 

Two considerations demand notice. If Mary, the mother of our 
Lord, had other children of her own, or even stepsons, it is difficult 
to understand our Lord's committing her to the care of John, who 
was no near relative, if a relative at all. 

14 



210 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

And if a difficulty is created by the general statement that ' our 
Lord's brethren did not believe on Him,' we must bear in mind that 
general statements admit of individual exceptions, and, in this case, 
James may be the exception. 

The Two Genealogies. 

MATTHEW i. I : ' The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, 
the son of Abraham.' 

LUKE iii. 22 : ' And Jesus Himself, when He began to teach, was about thirty 
years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph.' 

Difficulty. These genealogies differ in so many important par- 
ticulars that a common origin for them does not seem possible. 

Explanation. It is admitted by all competent writers that the 
genealogies given by Matthew and Luke both refer to Joseph, and 
not directly to Mary. What needs explanation is (i) how the 
genealogy of Joseph can prove the Davidic relationship of the son 
of Mary, who was not also the son of Joseph ; and (2) how the 
names given in the two genealogies come to differ in such remarkable 
ways. 

To the first question two answers have been given : (i) Genea- 
logies were only kept in the male line ; but as Jesus was the adopted 
son of Joseph, he was regarded legally as his heir, and so took his 
place in the genealogical list ; (2) Mary may have been the daughter 
of Jacob (Matt. i. 16), and therefore cousin to Joseph; and, if so, 
the genealogy which concerned him must equally have concerned 
her. 

It should, however, be known that Dean Plumptre clings to the 
idea that St. Luke gives the genealogy of Mary, through Heli and 
Nathan, the son of David. He says : ' A third, and, as it seems to 
the present writer, a more probable view is, that we have in St. Luke 
the genealogy, not of Joseph, but of Mary, the words " being (as was 
supposed) the son of Joseph " being a parenthesis, the first link being 
Jesus (the heir, and in that sense, son of Heli). On this hypothesis, 
the Virgin, as well as Joseph, was of the house and lineage of David ; 
and our Lord was literally, as well as by adoption, " of the seed of 
David according to the flesh " (Rom. i. 3) ; on the mother's side 
through the line of Nathan, on the reputed father's through that of 
Solomon. This view has at least the merit of giving a sufficient 
reason for the appearance of two different genealogies.' 

It may be helpful to remind our readers that St. Luke preserves a 
number of records which could only have been given by Mary, and 
which imply that St. Luke was in direct communication with her. 



THE TWO GENEALOGIES. 211 

In that case, we can quite understand that the private family genea- 
logy was placed at his command. Matthew seems to have had access 
to the official lists that were kept by the priests ; and if the families 
descending from David, through Nathan and through Solomon, at 
some time intermarried, the divergencies in the names at some points 
of the list is easily explained. 

' It may be noted that genealogies, such as those given by St. Mat- 
thew and St. Luke, were common in almost every Jewish family. 
The Books of Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah, compiled after the 
return from Babylon, show that they existed then. Josephus tran- 
scribes his own pedigree, from the time of the Asmonaean, or Mac- 
cabean, priest-rulers, from public registers, and states that, not in 
Judaea only, but in Alexandria and Babylon and other cities, wherever 
the Jews were settled, such registers were kept of the births and mar- 
riages of all belonging to the priesthood ; that copies were sent to 
Jerusalem ; that the registers went back for 2,000 years. The 
members of the house of David were hardly likely to be less careful 
in preserving records of their descent than those of the house of 
Aaron. Hillel the scribe, for instance, was known to be of the 
lineage of David, and must have had evidence of some kind to prove 
it. So, at a later time, the princes of the Captivity, who ruled over 
the Jews of Babylonia, claimed their allegiance as sons of David.' 
(Plumptre.} 

The hypothesis that seems to have gained most favour is that 
which assumes St. Matthew to have given the table of royal succes- 
sion, or heirship, to the throne of David, and St. Luke to have given 
the table of actual descent. ' If this hypothesis be carried through 
the tables, we must suppose that the royal line through Solomon 
became extinct in Jeconias, when the right of succession passed to 
the collateral line of Nathan in Salathiel ; and again, that the elder 
branch of Zorobabel's posterity became extinct in Eleazar or in 
Jacob, when the succession passed to the younger branch in Matthan, 
or in Joseph the son of Heli. This view is maintained in part by 
Grotius and Possinus, and recently by Dr. Mill, and is carried out 
more fully by Lord Arthur Hervey. This scheme seems in itself by 
far the most natural that has been proposed, and is supported by at 
least two remarkable coincidences with the Old Testament the 
childlessness of Jeconias predicted by Jeremiah (xxii. 30), and the 
mention of the " family of the house of Nathan " by Zechariah 
(xii. 12) in a manner which seems to indicate the then principal 
branch of the house of David.' (Speaker's Commentary.} 

From a pamphlet which passed through our hands some years ago 

142 



212 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

we took the following notes, which are worthy of a careful considera- 
tion : 

' The Jews, like other nations, gave more than one name to each 
individual. The life of a Jew was essentially twofold ; he was a 
member of a civil State, and he was at the same time a member of a 
theocracy ; his life was both political and religious. This distinction 
seems to have been preserved in the giving of names. Traces of the 
double name are found throughout the course of Scripture history, 
and may be found, under certain modifications, differing in different 
countries, existing to the present day. A well-informed writer says, 
in reference to the naming of a Jewish child : " The parents must 
give it a name, that it may be mentioned at its circumcision. It 
must be a Hebrew name, and, generally, one adopted in the family, 
or that of a celebrated man. This is a sacred name, and is always 
made use of in connection with religion. He may have another name, 
a common one, by giving a Gentile turn to his Hebrew name, or by 
adopting a Gentile name altogether. For example, his Hebrew name 
may be Moshe, and his common name Moses or Philip. Whenever 
he is named in the synagogue, or elsewhere connected with any 
religious duty, he is called by his Hebrew name, but in all other 
affairs he is called by his common name." 

' It is highly probable that the sacred name imposed at birth would 
be entered in a different list to the common name by which a man 
was known in his civil relationships. The former would be registered 
in infancy at the first presentation before the Lord in the Temple, 
and would be preserved amongst the sacred documents of the house 
of the Lord. The latter, entered later in life (2 Chron. xxxvi. 4), or 
after death, would be preserved amongst the records of the State, or, 
it may be, would be entered into a private family pedigree. Bishop 
Hervey, in his work on the " Genealogy of our Lord," adduces his- 
torical evidence to show that both public and private registers were 
kept among the Jews. 

' The conclusion to which we are brought is, that we have before 
us (in Matt. i. and Luke iii.) two such registers, one drawn from 
public, and the other from private sources, or one from a civil genea- 
logy, the other from writings laid up in the Temple. 

* In support of this view, we may note that in the genealogy of 
St. Luke the Evangelist whose opening chapters show a close 
familiarity with the interior of the Temple, and what took place there 
the names appear to have a sacred character. Even an English 
reader may remark at a glance the different aspect of the two lists. 
That in Luke contains, with striking frequency, the familiar names of 



THE TWO GENEALOGIES. 



213 



distinguished patriarchs, prophets, and priests, and thus confirms the 
impression that his genealogy, rather than that of Matthew, is of a 
purely religious character. 

' This hypothesis receives a remarkable confirmation by a com- 
parison of the dates of the two lists with the dates of the first build- 
ing, the destruction, and the second building of the Temple. What, 
then, is the relation between the two genealogies before Solomon's 
time, when there was no Temple ? And during the lives of Salathiel 
and Zorobabel, who flourished at the time of the Babylonish cap- 
tivity, when again, for seventy years, there was no Temple ? It is 
precisely at these periods that only one list exists. The divergence 
in Luke's genealogy from that of Matthew is exactly coincident with 
the periods during which the Temple was standing. What explana- 
tion of this striking fact can be more natural than that, at the point 
where the two genealogies unite, there was but one list to refer to, 
and that the absence of entries in the sacred register required it to be 
supplemented by a reference to the State chronicles ?' 

The two lists may be set side by side : 



FROM DAVID IN 


BOTH LISTS. 


FROM SALATHIEL, 


IN BOTH LISTS. 


After Matthew. 


After Luke. 


After Matthew. 


After Luke. 


I. Solomon. 


Nathan. 


i. Zorobabel. 


Zorobabel. 


2. Roboam. 


Mattatha. 


2. Abiud. 


Rhesa. 


3. Abia. 


Menan. 


3. Eliakim. 


Joanna. 


4. Asa. 


Melea. 


4. Azor. 


Juda. 


5. Josaphat. 


Eliakim. 


5. Sadoc. 


Joseph. 


6. Joram. 


Jonan. 


6. Achim. 


Semei. 


fj 


Joseph. 


7. Eliud. 


Mattathias. 


8. 


Juda. 


8. Eleazar. 


Maath. 


9- 


Simeon. 


9- 


Nagge. 


10. Ozias. 


Levi. 


10. 


Esli. 


II. Joatham. 


Matthat. 


ii. 


Naum. 


12. Achaz. 


Jorim. 


12. 


Amos. 


13. Ezekias. 


Eliezer. 


J 3- 


Mattathias. 


14. Manasses. 


Jose. 


14. 


Joseph. 


15. Amon. 


Er. 


15. 


Janna. 


1 6. Josias. 


Elmodam. 


16. 


Melchi. 


17- 


Cosam. 


17- 


Levi. 


18, Jechonias. 


Addi. 


18. Matthan. 


Matthat. 


19. 


Melchi. 


IQ. Jacob. 


Heli. 


20. 


Neri. 20. Joseph. 


Joseph or Mary. 



The Date of our Lord's Birth. 

MATTHEW ii. I : ' Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the 
days of Herod the king.' 

Difficulty. The known date of the death of Herod makes the date 
of our Lord's birth as A.D. i nearly impossible. 

Explanation. It is now well-nigh universally recognised that 
the usual date of our Lord's birth as A.D. i is three, if not four, years 



2 14 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

too late. Whether it should be B.C. 3, or B.C. 4, seems still uncertain. 
Dr. E. R. Conder argues for B.C. 4, and his arguments are likely to 
convince our readers, and ensure the acceptance of this date. 

' In order to determine the date of the Nativity with such accuracy 
as may be found possible, we have first to ascertain the date of 
Herod's death, and then to consider by what interval of time our 
Saviour's birth probably preceded it. Neither of these points is free 
from difficulty. Absolute certainty (let us at once candidly admit) 
is not attainable. But when the facts are clearly stated, they lead to 
a conclusion in which we may rest with a near approach to certainty, 
which is greatly confirmed when we find how the date thus deter- 
mined harmonises with all the after-facts of the Gospel history. 

* Herod the Great reigned, as Josephus informs us, thirty-four 
years from the time when he took Jerusalem by storm, and put 
Antigonus to death. This was in the month Sivan, in the summer 
of A.U.C. 717 (B.C. 37), three years after Herod had been made king 
by the Roman Senate. According to our mode of reckoning, there- 
fore, Herod's thirty-fourth year would be from Sivan of the year 750 
(B.C. 4) to Sivan of 751 (B.C. 3). But the Jewish custom was to 
reckon regnal years from the beginning of the Jewish sacred year, 
at whatever time the actual accession might take place. Consequently, 
Herod's thirty-fourth year, by Jewish reckoning, was from i Nisan 750 
to the eve of i Nisan 751 (B.C. 4-3). Between these two dates his 
death must have occurred. And even if he died in the first week 
of Nisan, he would be held to have " reigned thirty-four years "- 
that is, entered his thirty-fourth year as king, though the actual 
anniversary of his accession was not till between two or three months 
later. 

' Now, if the account given by Josephus be carefully studied, it 
will be found to furnish decisive proof that the death of Herod 
occurred shortly before the Passover. The facts may be briefly 
stated thus. Herod died at Jericho, having previously gone to the 
hot baths of Callirhoe, beyond Jordan, in the vain hope of gaining 
some alleviation of his intolerable sufferings. Archelaus, his son 
and successor, after providing a magnificent funeral, and observing 
the necessary week of mourning, came to Jerusalem, sacrificed in 
the Temple, and addressed the people in regal state. At first he 
was well received, but in the evening a public lamentation burst forth 
throughout the city, not for King Herod, but for certain Rabbins, 
whom he had cruelly put to death. These Rabbins, when the king 
was thought to be dying, had instigated their disciples to hew down 
a golden eagle, erected by him over the great gate of the Temple. 



THE DATE OF OUR LORD'S BIRTH. 215 

Herod had taken savage vengeance, causing the Rabbins, and their 
most active followers, to be burnt alive. The Passover, Josephus 
tells us, was now approaching. The multitudes who, on that account, 
were arriving at Jerusalem, swelled the disturbance to a formidable 
sedition, which Archelaus suppressed with severity worthy of his 
father, three thousand persons being massacred by his troops. After 
establishing order in this fashion, he hastened to Rome, to seek the 
imperial sanction to his father's testament, appointing him King of. 
Judaea. At Caesarea he met the procurator of Syria, on his way to 
Jerusalem, to take charge of Herod's wealth in the name of the 
Roman Government. No exact dates are given by Josephus, but 
Archelaus was at Rome before Pentecost ; manifestly in the summer 
of the same year. 

4 The question then arises : Was this Passover, which thus followed 
the death of Herod, that of B.C. 4, or B.C. 3 ? Here we have a 
remarkable note of time. On the night after the Rabbins were 
burned, an eclipse of the moon took place. Astronomers find that 
the only eclipse to which this statement can refer occurred on 
March 13, B.C. 4 (A.U.C. 750). The succeeding full moon, April n, 
was that of the Passover (Nisan 14-15); and Nisan i fell on 
March 29. Now, if we deduct the seven days of mourning, in- 
cluding the funeral, together with at least three or four days for the 
visit of Archelaus to Jerusalem, and the influx of the multitude 
before the Passover, we are thrown back to April i or March 31 
(Nisan 4 or 3) as the latest day on which we can suppose the death 
of Herod to have happened.' 

Arguing the probable length of the events between Herod's death 
and our Lord's birth, giving four or five weeks between the visit of the 
Magi and the death, forty days for the 'presentation,' and an interval 
between the ' presentation ' and the visit of the Magi, we are led to 
fix the first part of January, A.U.C. 750 (B.C. 4), as the precise 
period of our Lord's birth. 

There is no proof that December 25 is the actual day, but it 
cannot be many days off the true date ; and, indeed, the Old 
Christmas-Day, January 6, may be the absolutely correct day. 



216 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 



The Last Arrival at Jerusalem. 

MARK xi. I : ' And when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and 
Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, He sendeth forth two of His disciples.' 

Difficulty. A comparison of the Gospel narratives leaves us quite 
uncertain as to what our Lord did immediately on His arrival at 
Jerusalem. 

Explanation. It will be helpful to set the four narratives 
together, and, to ensure as much exactness as possible, they may be 
given from the ' Revised Version.' 

Matthew xxi. i, 2 : 'And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, 
and came unto Bethphage, unto the Mount of Olives, then Jesus 
sent two disciples, saying unto them, Go into the village that is over 
against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with 
her ; loose them, and bring them unto me.' 

Matthew appears to make the triumphal entry take place on the 
evening of the day that Jesus left Jericho ; but his words will allow 
of a time of tarrying at Bethany, or Bethphage. 

Mark xi. i : ' And when they drew nigh unto Bethphage and 
Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, he sendeth two of His disciples.' 

Mark differs from Matthew in the tense ' draw,' and in adding the 
name Bethany ; but he leaves the same impression, that the trium- 
phal entry took place immediately on our Lord's arrival from 
Jericho. 

Luke xix. 28, 29 : 'And when He had thus spoken, He went on 
before, going up to Jerusalem. And it came to pass, when He 
drew nigh unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called 
the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples,' etc. 

Luke distinctly confirms the view of the previous Evangelists. 

John xii. i : ' Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came 
to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus raised from the dead.' 
Then an account is given of a family feast held at Bethany, which 
could not have been given on the Friday night, because the Sabbath 
began at sundown on Friday ; but may have been given on Saturday 
night, because the Sabbath ended at sundown of Saturday, and feasts 
were often held after the Sabbath closed. 

John xii. 12: 'On the morrow a great multitude that had come 
to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 
took the branches of the palm-trees, and went forth to meet Him,' 
etc. Verse 14 : ' And Jesus, having found a young ass, sat thereon,' 
etc. 



THE LAST ARRIVAL AT JERUSALEM. 217 

John gives fuller details, and seems to correct the impression 
made on us by the Synoptists, that Jesus visited Jerusalem on the 
night of His arrival from Jericho. If the references of the four 
writers are taken literally, it would seem necessary to assume two 
triumphal entries, one on the arrival from Jericho, on the Friday 
afternoon, and a second on the following Sunday morning. 

We may now see how this difficulty has been treated by competent 
writers. Dean Mansel states the explanations that are possible, but 
scarcely indicates his own judgment. ' The time is fixed by the data 
furnished by St. John (xii. i). Our Lord came to Bethany six days 
before the Passover, i.e., on the 8th Nisan, the reckoning being 
exclusive of the Passover-day itself, the i4th, but inclusive of the day 
of arrival. If we regard Friday, the day of the Lord's crucifixion, as 
the 1 4th, the 8th was the Sabbath, and the entry into Jerusalem, 
which took place the next day (John xii. 12), was 'on the Qth Nisan, 
the day now known as Palm Sunday. If we adopt the view that our 
Lord was crucified on the i5th, and consequently that the Passover 
fell on Thursday, the arrival at Bethany must be placed on the 
Friday, and we must suppose that our Lord remained at Bethany 
over the Sabbath, and entered Jerusalem on Sunday the loth Nisan. 
Both theories agree in assigning the entry into Jerusalem to Palm 
Sunday, though differing as to the day of the month ; but in the latter 
case we must suppose a day to intervene between the entry into 
Bethany (John xii. i) and the supper (verse 2), of which there is no 
hint in St. John's narrative.' 

Canon Westcott remarks : ' The pause at Bethany is not mentioned 
by the Synoptists ; but there is nothing surprising in the omission.' 
On John xii. 12 he has the following note: 'In this incident again 
St. John's narrative is parallel to that of the Synoptists, but more 
exact in details. The Synoptists say nothing of the rest at Bethany ; 
and it appears at first sight as if they placed the triumphal entry on 
the same day as the journey from Jericho. And yet in each case 
there is the sign of a break : Matt. xxi. i ; Luke xix. 29. And the 
return to Bethany noticed by St. Mark (xi. u) suggests at least that 
village for the starting point.' 

Professor Watkins observes that the whole question of the arrange- 
ment of days during this last great week depends upon the conclu- 
sion which we adopt with regard to the day on which our Lord was 
crucified. ' St. John only gives the definite note of time, connecting 
the entry with the previous sojourn at Bethany. The Synoptic 
narrative is more general, describing the approach from Jericho, and 
naming Bethphage (Matthew and Luke) and Bethany (Mark and 



2i8 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

Luke) as stages in the journey, but not connecting the Supper at 
Bethany with the entry.' 

Vallings takes the view which seems, in every way, the most 
reasonable. ' While Jewish pilgrims were speculating about His 
coming to the feast, Jesus spent the last Friday (evening) before His 
Passion in the now dearer home of Bethany. On the following day 
He shared the Sabbath feast with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, and 
apparently other guests, in the house of Simon the leper.' 

With his descriptive power Farrar writes of the journey on the 
Friday : The disciples ' fell reverently back, and followed Him with 
many a look of awe as He slowly climbed the long, sultry, barren 
gorge which led up to Jerusalem from Jericho. He did not mean to 
make the city of Jerusalem His actual resting-place, but preferred as 
usual to stay in the loved home at Bethany. Thither He arrived on 
the evening of Friday, Nisan 8 (March 31, A.D. 30), six days before 
the Passover, and before the sunset had commenced the Sabbath 
hours.' 

Edersheim, Stalker, Pressense, Geikie, etc., agree in following the lead 
of John's narratives, and treat the triumphal entry as taking place on 
the Sunday morning, after a resting-time at Bethany from the previous 
Friday evening. The ' six days ' mentioned by St. John may be 
filled up thus. Friday, arrival at Bethany. Saturday, quiet Sabbath, 
with feast after Sabbath was ended. Sunday, triumphal entry. 
Monday, second visit to Jerusalem. Tuesday, third visit. Wednes- 
day, quiet day at Bethany. Thursday, the Passover supper. The 
mode of reckoning the day from sunset to sunset makes our calcula- 
tion very difficult. The evening of the previous day may be 
reckoned a day, or it may not. 



The Passovers in Christ's Ministry, or The 
Unknown Feast. 

JOHN ii. 13 : ' And the passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to 
Jerusalem.' 

Question. Do the references to this feast in the Gospels help to a 
decision concerning the length of our Lord's ministry ? 

Answer. Very much depends on the decision to which we come 
concerning the feast that is mentioned, without being defined, in 
John v. i : ' After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went 
up to Jerusalem.' This ' feast ' has been identified by some writers 
with each of the great Jewish festivals, and even with the minor ones. 



THE PASSOVERS IN CHRIST'S MINISTRY. 219 

Irenaeus, Eusebius, Lightfoot, Neander, Greswell, etc., regard it as the 
Passover. Cyril, Chrysostom, Calvin, Bengel, etc., prefer Pentecost. 
And Ewald advocates Tabernacles. Caspari prefers the Day of 
Atonement, and Wieseler, Meyer, Godet, etc., plead for the claims 
of the Feast of Purim. On a subject involving so much diversity of 
opinion, it will be wise only to give the material for the formation of 
a satisfactory judgment. 

Professor H. W. Watkivs, M.A., puts the case succinctly and 
suggestively : * The time-limits are ch. iv. 35, which was in Tebeth 
(January), and ch. vi. 4, which brings us to the next Passover in 
Nisan (April), that is, an interval of four months, the year being an 
intercalary one, with the month Veadar (and Adar) added, or, as we 
should say, with two months of March. The only feast which falls 
in this interval is the Feast of Purim, and it is with this that the best 
modern opinion identifies the feast of John v. i. It was kept on the 
1 4th of Adar (March), in commemoration of the deliverance of the 
Jews from the plots of Haman, and took its name from the lots cast 
by him (Esth. iii. 7 ; ix. 24, et seg.}. It was one of the most popular 
feasts, and was characterised by festive rejoicings, presents, and gifts 
to the poor. At the same time it was not one of the great feasts, 
and while the writer names the Passover (chs. ii. 13 ; vi. 4 ; xiii. i), 
the Feast of Tabernacles (ch. vii. 2), and even that of the Dedication 
(ch. x. 22), this has no further importance in the narrative than to 
account for the fact of Jesus being again in Jerusalem.' 

Dr. Piummer says that this Feast of Purim was ' a boisterous 
feast, and some have thought it unlikely that Christ would have any- 
thing to do with it. But we are not told that He went to Jerusalem 
in order to keep the feast ; Purim might be kept anywhere. More 
probably He went because the multitudes at the feast would afford 
great opportunities for teaching. Moreover, it does not follow that 
because some made this feast a scene of unseemly jollity, therefore 
Christ would discountenance the feast itself.' 

Dr. E. R. Conder brings out the relation of this feast to a decision 
as to the length of our Lord's ministry. ' What feast this was is a 
much-debated and important question, the answer to which has been 
regarded as furnishing the key to the chronology of the Gospel 
narrative. To some extent it does so, for, if this feast was a Passover, 
then we have four Passovers distinctly noted in St. John's Gospel 
(ii. 13 ; v. i ; vi. 4 ; xi. 55), necessarily implying a duration of three 
years for our Lord's ministry. The converse, however, is not true. 
If it was not a Passover, it does not follow that that ministry lasted 
less than three years. If it was not the Passover, it does not in fact 



220 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

greatly matter to the Gospel chronology what feast it was. For, in 
addition to the separate evidence on which we assign the cleansing of 
the Temple to A.D. 27, and the Crucifixion to A.D. 30, we have 
independent proof from the Synoptic Gospels of the occurrence of a 
Passoivr between that which preceded the Galilaean ministry and 
that which was approaching (John vi. 4), when our Lord fed the five 
thousand in the wilderness. This proof consists in the narrative of 
the walk through the cornfields on the Sabbath, when the disciples 
offended the Pharisees by plucking the ripe ears of corn and rubbing 
them out in their hands. This could not have happened before a 
Passover, not only because the corn would not be ripe, but because 
the disciples would not have dared to gather it until after the sacred 
sheaf of firstfruits had been offered in the Temple. Moreover, the 
difficult phrase in Luke vi. i (literally, " the second- first Sabbath "), 
whatever be its precise meaning, points, it can hardly be doubted, to 
a Passover. But we are forbidden by Matt. xii. i to identify the 
Passover thus indicated with that at the beginning of our Lord's 
ministry (John ii. 13). And unless we surrender the task of framing 
any connected view of the Gospel history, we are equally forbidden 
by the three Synoptic narratives to identify it with that Passover 
(John vi. 4) which followed the death of John the Baptist, the return 
of the twelve, and the feeding of the five thousand.' 

Edersheim calls this the ' Unknown Feast.' But he thinks it is 
clear that it was either the feast of 'Wood Offering,' on the i5th of 
Abh (August), when, amidst demonstrations of joy, willing givers 
from all parts of the country brought the wood required for the 
service of the altar ; or else the ' Feast of Trumpets ' on the ist Tisri 
(about the middle of September), which marked the beginning of the 
new (civil) year.' 

Canon Westcott says : ' The fixed points between which the feast 
lies are the Passover (ii. 23) and the feeding of the five thousand, the 
latter event taking place, according to the universal testimony of 
MSS. and versions, when the Passover was near at hand ' (vi. 4). 
The following details in St. John bear more or less directly upon the 
date : (i) After leaving Jerusalem at the conclusion of the Passover 
(iii. 22), the Lord 'tarried' in Judaea. This stay was sufficiently 
long to lead to results which attracted the attention of the Baptist's 
disciples, and of the Pharisees (iv. i). (2) On the other hand, the 
interval between the Passover and the Lord's return to Galilee was 
such that the memory of the events of that feast was fresh in the 
minds of those who had been present at it (iv. 45), and from the 
mention of ' the feast,' it is unlikely that any other great feast had 



THE PASSOVERS IN CHRIST'S MINISTRY. 221 

occurred since. (3) The ministry of the Baptist, who was at liberty 
after the Passover (iii. 26 ff.), is spoken of as already past at the 
unnamed feast (v. 35). (4) To this it may be added that the 
language in which the Lord's action in regard to the Sabbath is 
spoken of implies that His teaching on this was now familiar to the 
leaders of the people. (5) The phrase used in iv. 35 has special 
significance if the conversation took place either shortly after seed- 
time, or shortly before harvest. (6) The circumstances of the con- 
versation in ch. iv. suit better with summer than with early spring. 
(7) At the time when the healing took place the sick lay in the open 
air under the shelter of the porches. (8) From vii. 21 ff. it appears 
that the Lord had not visited Jerusalem between this unnamed feast 
and the Feast of Tabernacles, and that the incident of ver. i ff. was 
fresh in the minds of the people at the later visit. (9) It is im- 
probable that the feast was one of those which St. John elsewhere 
specifies by name. A consideration of these data seems to leave the 
choice between Pentecost, the Feast of Trumpets (the Day of Atone- 
ment), and Purim. 

Purim (March) would fall in well with the succession of events ; 
but the character of the discourse has no connection with the thoughts 
of the festival, and the festival itself was not such as to give a natural 
occasion for such teaching. 

Pentecost would suit well with the character of the discourse, but 
the interval between the Passover of ch. ii. and the Pentecost of the 
same year would scarcely leave sufficient time for the events implied 
in chs. iii., iv., while to regard it as the Pentecost of the year after 
seems to make the interval too great. ' The tradition of the early 
Greek Church identified it with Pentecost. Most modern com- 
mentators suppose it to be the Feast of Purim.' 

Farrar says : * The Synoptists are silent respecting any visit of 
Christ to the Passover between His twelfth year and His death, and 
it is St. John alone, who, true to the purpose and characteristics of 
his Gospel, mentions the earliest Passover of Christ's ministry. The 
feast of John v. i would make four Passovers, if it were certain that 
a Passover was intended.' In an 'additional note' Farrar gives 
reasons why, if the feast was Purim, St. John withheld the name. 
* Looking, therefore, at minor feasts (after showing that it could not 
be one of the greater feasts), there is only one for which we can see 
a reason why the name should have been omitted, viz., the Feast of 
Purim. The mere fact of its being a minor feast would not alone be 
a sufficient reason for excluding the name, since St. John mentions 
by name the comparatively unimportant and humanly-appointed 



222 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

Feast of the Dedication. But the name of this feast was represented 
by a familiar Greek word (Encaenia), and explained itself ; whereas 
the Feast of Purim was intensely Jewish, and the introduction of the 
name without an explanation would have been unintelligible. Purim 
means " lots," and if St. John had merely translated the name into 
Greek, it might have led to very mistaken impressions. Moreover, 
the fact that it was the most unimportant, non-religious, and ques- 
tionably-observed of the Jewish feasts, would be an additional reason 
for leaving the name unnoticed.' 



The Census of Quirinius. 

LUKE ii. r, 2 : ' Now, it came to pass in those days, there went out a decree 
from Cassar Augustus, that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first 
enrolment made when Quirinius was governor of Syria.' 

Difficulty. The Roman records cannot readily be harmonised 
with this state?nent. 

Explanation. Later writers are not able to improve upon the 
note given by Bishop Ellicott in his ' Hulsean Lecture,' p. 58. We 
give this note in full. Referring to Luke ii. 2, he says: 'Without 
entering at length into this vexed question, we may remark, for the 
benefit of the general reader, that the simple and grammatical mean- 
ing of the words, as they appear in all the best MSS. (B alone omits 
yj before avoypayfy, must be this : " This taxing took place as a first 
one while Cyrenius was governor of Syria " ; and that the difficulty 
is to reconcile this with the assertion of Tertullian, that the taxing 
took place under Sentius Saturninus, and with the apparent historical 
fact that Quirinius did not become president of Syria till nine or ten 
years afterwards. There are apparently only two sound modes of 
explaining the apparent contradiction (I dismiss the mode of regard- 
ing wpwrjj as equivalent to vrporepa as forced and artificial), either by 
supposing (a) that riysuovtvovTos (governor) is to be taken in a general 
and not a special sense, and to imply the duties of a commissioner- 
extraordinary a view perhaps best and most ably advocated by the 
Abb Sanclemente, but open to the objection arising from the special 
and localising term r?j$ ^vpias (of Syria) ; or by supposing (3) that, 
under historical circumstances imperfectly known to us, Quirinius 
was either de facto or de jure president of Syria, exactly as St. Luke 
seems to specify. In favour of this latter supposition we have the 
thrice-repeated assertion of Justin Martyr that Quirinius was 
president at the time in question, and the interesting fact recently 
brought to light by Zumpt that, owing to Cilicia, when separated from 



THE CENSUS OF QUIRIN1US. 223 

Cyprus, being united to Syria, Quirinius, as governor of the first- 
mentioned province, was really also governor of the last-mentioned 
whether in any kind of association with Saturninus, or otherwise, 
can hardly be ascertained and that his subsequent more special 
connection with Syria led his earlier and apparently brief connection 
to be thus accurately noticed. This last view, to say the least, 
deserves great consideration, and has been adopted by Merivale.' 

On the face of it, we cannot but think it incredible that the 
Evangelist should have erred on a matter of public history, with all 
the contemporary sources of information open to him. 

Wieseler, writing before the publication of Zumpt's investigations, 
combines two explanations of St. Luke's words, which he translates : 
' This registration was the first (that was made) before Cyrenius was 
governor of Syria.' 

Dean Merivale concludes that ' the enumeration, begun or ap- 
pointed under Varus, and before the death of Herod, was completed 
after that event by Quirinius.' 

For the full discussion of this subject, see 'Speaker's Com- 
mentary,' N. T., Vol. I., pp. 326-329 ; an ' additional note ' by 
Canon Cook. 

Slaughter of the Bethlehem Children. 

MATTHEW ii. 16 : ' Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise 
men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the male children that were 
in Bethlehem, and in all the borders thereof, from two years old and under, accord- 
ing to the time which he had carefully learned of the wise men. 

Question. Is there any possibility of finding corroboration of this 
incident from secular history ? 

Answer. No writer has succeeded in finding the remotest 
historical allusion ; and it is certainly remarkable that Josephus 
makes no mention of the incident. Carr says : ' Profane history 
passes over this atrocity in silence. But Josephus may well have 
found his pages unequal to contain a complete record of all the cruel 
deeds of a tyrant like Herod. Macaulay relates that the massacre of 
Glencoe is not even alluded to in the pages of Evelyn, a most diligent 
recorder of passing political events. Besides, the crime was executed 
with secrecy, the number of children slain was probably very incon- 
siderable, for Bethlehem was but a small town ; and though it was 
probably crowded at the time (Luke ii. 7), the number of very 
young children would not have been considerably augmented by 
those strangers.' 

If the visit of the Magi is placed after the Presentation in the 



224 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

Temple, and the presentation took place forty days after birth, we 
may be sure that the special visitors to Bethlehem for the ' enrolling ' 
had long before returned to their homes. Mary's circumstances 
detained her, but the population affected by Herod's decree could 
have been only the usual one. 

In a note, Geikie says : ' Josephus, though he does not expressly 
name the incident at Bethlehem, has two allusions to a massacre 
which Herod ordered shortly before his death, which very probably 
refer to it. He says : " Herod did not spare those who seemed 
most dear to him " " he slew all those of his own family who sided 
with the Pharisees, and refused to take the oath of allegiance to the 
Emperor, because they looked forward to a change in the royal 
line:' ' 

Dean Plumptre acknowledges that the slaughter is not mentioned 
by Josephus or any other writer. But he adds : ' Nor need we 
wonder that the act was not recorded elsewhere. The population 
of Bethlehem could hardly have been more than two thousand, and 
the number of children under two years of age in that number 
would be between twenty and thirty. The cruelty of such an act 
would naturally impress itself on the local memory, from which, 
directly or indirectly, the Gospel record was derived, and yet escape 
the notice of an historian writing eighty or ninety years afterwards 
of the wars and court history of the period. The secrecy which 
marked the earlier part of Herod's scheme (verse 7) would extend 
naturally, as far as Jerusalem was concerned, to its execution.' 

Ellicott and Farrar think credit may be given to a sentence from 
Macrobius, who lived about A.D. 400, but may have used early 
materials. He says : c On Augustus being informed that " among 
the boys under two years of age whom Herod ordered to be slain 
in Syria, his own son also had been slain," exclaimed, " It is better 
to be Herod's pig than his son." ' Most writers regard this allusion 
as quite untrustworthy. 



Events between the Baptism and First Passover. 

MATTHEW iv. 12, 13 : ' Now when He heard that John was delivered up, He 
withdrew into Galilee ; and, leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum.' 

Difficulty. A chronological arrangement of the incidents occur- 
ring during the six months following on our Lord's baptism seems 
impossible. 

Explanation. No absolute certainty can attach to any scheme 
for this six months that human ingenuity can devise. Probability is 



THE BAPTISM AND THE FIRST PASSOVER. 225 

the utmost that can be attained to ; but there is a very general agree- 
ment in the view that the events narrated in John i. 19 to iv. 54 
occupy this period. Modern Gospel Harmonies will be found 
arranged on this supposition. The order of events may, with good 
show of reasonableness, be mapped out as follows : 

Our Lord's Baptism. 

Forty-days' Temptation. 

Return to John Baptist, and call of Andrew and Simon. 

Visit to Galilee. Call of Philip and Nathanael. 

Visit to Cana. 

Short visit to Capernaum. 

First Passover at Jerusalem. 

Interview with Nicodemus. 

Journey through Samaria. 

Beginning of the longer ministry in Galilee. 

These certainly take the early months of the year A.D. 27, and the 
rest of the year, up to Passover A.D. 28, was occupied with 
evangelistic labours in Galilee. 

It is, however, a matter of dispute whether our Lord, on His first 
visit to Jerusalem and Judaea, remained only a few weeks, or some 
months. Probably it was only a few weeks ; and there is a grave 
difficulty in the way of associating the conversation between our Lord 
and Nicodemus with the early period of Christ's ministry. At that 
time His teaching and miracles could not have become common talk, 
and Nicodemus could have had no ground on which to say: 'We 
know that Thou art a teacher come from God, for no man can do 
these miracles that Thou doest, except God be with Him.' 

It must be freely admitted that it is a hopeless task to put the 
contents of the four Gospels into historical order. It has been 
wisely said : ' If we would trace a clear outline of our Saviour's life 
and ministry, we must be content with an outline, and must resist 
the temptation to labour after a fulness and exactitude for which the 
Gospels do not supply the materials. We must free ourselves from 
the notion that the object of the Gospels bound the writers to strict 
chronological order, so that in relating events in a different sequence 
they are guilty of misplacing them, or if they pass them by in silence 
are mutilating history. The object of the Gospels is neither historical 
nor biographical, but religious. It is a pedantic and inappreciative, 
not to say ignorant, criticism which censures or slights the Gospels 
as " fragmentary." ' Dr. E. R. Conder. 



226 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 



The Date of our Lord's Baptism. 

MATTHEW iii. 13 : 'Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be 
baptized of him.' 

Question. Will a discovery of the date of this incident help us to 
fix the time of the beginning of our Lord^s ministry ? 

Answer. Dr. E. R. Conder discusses this question, in its rela- 
tion to the date given for the beginning of the ministry of John the 
Baptist. It should be noted that the Gospel Harmonies give A.D. 26 
as the year of John's ministry, and of our Lord's baptism by 
him. 

' The Evangelist Luke states with unusual fulness the date of the 
preparatory mission of John. " In the fifteenth year of the reign of 
Tiberius Caesar .... the word of God came unto John, the son of 
Zacharias, in the wilderness" (Luke iii. i, 2). Singularly enough, 
this very exactness is a source of difficulty. Augustus Caesar died, 
and was succeeded by Tiberius, in August, A.D. 14. Reckoning 
from this date, the fifteenth year of Tiberius was from August, A.D. 28, 
to August, A.D. 29. This would give us the spring of A.D. 29 for the 
Passover following our Lord's baptism, at which He cleansed the 
Temple ; and (as will presently be shown) the early part of that year 
for His baptism. But this does not fit with the date which on other 
grounds we are led to assign to the beginning of our Lord's ministry, 
viz., A.D. 27. These grounds are briefly as follows : 

'(i) According to Luke iii. 23, Jesus was about thirty years of age 
at His baptism. (There is a difficulty, concerning which scholars are 
not agreed, regarding the meaning of the word beginning, and the 
exact reading of the text ; but this does not affect the general sense.) 
If we have been correct in fixing the Nativity about the beginning (a 
little before or after) of B.C. 4, then in the spring of A.D. 29 our Lord 
would be more than thirty-two years of age. 

' (2) At the Passover at which Jesus began His public ministry, the 
rebuilding of the Temple had been going on during forty-six years 
(John ii. 20). Now the building of the Temple was begun by Herod 
the Great in the eighteenth year of his reign. (See Josephus, 
Ant. xv. ii. i.) Herod's eighteenth year was from ist Nisan of 
A.U.C. 734 to the same time, A.U.C. 735. Therefore, adding forty- 
five complete years at the Passover (i.e. Nisan i5th to 2ist) in 
A.U.C. 780 (A.D. 27), forty-six regnal years had elapsed, and the forty- 
seventh had just begun, from the year in which the rebuilding com- 
menced. 



THE DATE OF OUR LORD'S BAPTISM. 227 

' (3) The date A.D. 27 harmonizes with the view, strongly established 
on other grounds, that our Lord's ministry occupied three years, and 
that the crucifixion took place A.D. 30. 

' Although it is necessary to state thus fully this difficulty, since it 
affects the entire scheme of Gospel Chronology, the solution is simple 
and satisfactory. The reign of Tiberius as sole Emperor began at the 
death of Augustus ; but he had been/0/;*/ Emperor with Augustus 
a sort of Vice-Emperor for two years previously. The word used 
by St. Luke, translated " reign," by no means implies sole empire, but 
applies with perfect accuracy to this share in the government, which 
had special reference to the provinces. Insomuch that, had St. Luke 
spoken of A.D. 27 as "the thirteenth year of the government of 
Tiberius," his critics might have taxed him with ignorance of this 
association of Tiberius with Augustus in the Imperial sovereignty. 
With this explanation, both the Evangelist's chronology and his 
phraseology are seen to be perfectly accurate. We therefore under- 
stand " the fifteenth year " of Tiberius to have begun in August, 
A.D. 26. And we may with great probability suppose that " the 
word of the Lord came to John," and he began his public ministry, 
about the close of the summer, or the beginning of autumn, shortly 
before the time when, at the signal of the early rains, the ploughman 
and the sower go forth to their work.' 

If Dr. Conder's explanation be accepted, the baptism of Jesus 
took place early in the year A.D. 27. 

Vallings says : ' It was " in winter, according to the unanimous 
tradition of the early Church," and possibly on January 6 or 10 
(B.C. 4), according to the Basilidean tradition, that the Messiah stood 
unrecognised on the bank.' But this is quite an impossible date. It 
is the date of our Lord's birth, not of His baptism. 

Bishop Ellicott says : * It was now probably towards the close of 
the Year of the City 780 when the Holy Jesus, moved we may 
humbly presume by that Spirit which afterwards directed His feet to 
the wilderness, leaves the home of His childhood, to return to it no 
more as His earthly abode.' His explanation of St. Luke's reference 
to Tiberius coincides with that of Conder. Ellicott has a further note 
as follows : ' The conclusion at which Wieseler arrives, after a careful 
consideration of all the historical data that tend to fix the time of 
our Lord's baptism, is this : Jesus must have been baptized by John 
not earlier than February, 780 A.U.C. (the extreme " terminus a quo " 
supplied by St. Luke), nor later than the winter of the same year 
(the extreme " terminus ad quern " supplied by St. John). Wieseler 
himself fixes upon the spring or summer of 780 A.U.C. as the exact 

I 2 



228 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES, 

date ; but to this period there are two objections : First, that if, as 
seems reasonable, we agree (with Wieseler) to fix the deputation to 
the Baptist about the close of February, 781 A.U.C., we shall have 
a period of eight months, viz., from the middle of 780 to the end of 
the second month of 781 wholly unaccounted for. Secondly ', that it 
is almost the unanimous tradition of the early church that the 
baptism of our Lord took place in winter , or in the early part of the 
year. The tradition of the Basilideans, mentioned by Clement of 
Alexandria, that the baptism of our Lord took place on the nth or 
1 5th of Tybi (January 6 or 10) deserves consideration, both from the 
antiquity of the sect, and from the fact that the baptism of our Lord 
was in their system an epoch of the highest importance.' 

Edersheim supports the date thus assigned by Ellicott, and also 
the idea that the baptism took place in the winter-time. 



Our Lord's Visits to Nazareth. 

LUKE iv. 1 6 : ' And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up.' 
MATTHEW xiii. 53, 54 : ' And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these 
parables, He departed thence. And coming into His own country ' (the Greek 
freely rendered is ' His old home ') ' He taught them in their synagogue.' 

MARK vi. i : ' And He went out from thence, and came into His own country ; 
and His disciples follow Him.' 

Difficulty. St. Luke may only give a detailed account of what 
Matthew and Mark briefly allude to, and so these passages may refer 
to the same visit. 

Explanation. The fact that certain visits are recorded does not 
involve that no other visits besides these were paid. His rejection is 
not likely to have occurred twice over ; and it has been again and 
again shown that the Bible writers were not anxious about chrono- 
logical order. Each of the Synoptists record a visit to Nazareth 
which was of special interest, and we may reasonably incline to the 
idea that only one such visit was paid. But the Bible-writers favour 
the idea of two visits. Of these Wieseler, Tischendorf, Krarft, and 
Meyer, may be referred to. There is a mention of Nazareth in 
Matthew iv. 13, but there was no such excitement, as Luke narrates, 
in His leaving Nazareth on that occasion. 

Dean Plumptre gathers up all that need be said on this subject. 
' The visit to Nazareth, recorded in Matthew in almost identical terms 
with Mark, has so many points of resemblance with the narrative of 
Luke iv. 16-31, that many critics have supposed it to be a less 
complete account of the same fact. On this assumption the narra- 
tive must be misplaced in its relation to other facts in one or other 



OUR LORD'S VISITS TO NAZARETH. 229 

of the Gospels. A dislocation of some kind must indeed be admitted 
in any case, as St. Mark places it after the resurrection of Jairus's 
daughter, and makes that event follow the cure of the Gadarene 
demoniac, and places that on the next day after the first use of 
parables. We are compelled to admit the almost entire absence of 
any trustworthy notes of chronological sequence, beyond the group- 
ing, in some cases, of a few conspicuous facts. In comparing, how- 
ever, St. Matthew and St. Mark with St. Luke, there seems no 
sufficient ground for hastily assuming identity. The third Gospel 
places the visit which it narrates at the very beginning of our Lord's 
work, and as giving the reason of His removal to Capernaum. Here 
(in Matthew) there is no outburst of violent enmity, such as we find 
there (in Luke), but simple amazement. It seems, therefore, more 
probable that we have here a short account (short and imperfect, it 
may be, because our Lord went without His disciples) of another 
effort to bring the men of Nazareth to acknowledge Him, if not as 
the Christ, at least as a Prophet The circumstances of the case in 
St. Matthew's record suggest another motive as, at least, possible. 
He had recently, as in Matt. xii. 48, when His mother and His 
brethren had come in their eager anxiety to interrupt His work, 
spoken in words that seemed to repel them to a distance from Him. 
What if this visit were meant to show that, though as a Prophet He 
could not brook that interruption, home affections were not dead in 
Him, that His heart still yearned over His brethren and His towns- 
men, and that He sought to raise them to a higher life? On 
comparing the account here with that in St. Luke, it would seem 
almost certain that there was now a less direct assertion of His 
claims as the Christ than there had been before a proclamation of 
the laws of the kingdom rather than of His own position in it. And 
so the impression is one of wonder at His wisdom, not of anger or 
scorn at what He claims to be.' 

Geikie, writing of the scene described in St. Luke, says : ' But 
though He left Nazareth never to return. He remained in the neigh- 
bourhood for a time, preaching in the villages of the great plain of 
Esdraelon, far and near.' He appears, therefore, to identify the visits 
as differing records of one occasion. 

Edersheim gives the matter a very careful consideration, and pre- 
sents his conclusion in the following note. * Many, even orthodox 
commentators, hold that this history in Luke is the same as that 
related in Matthew and in Mark. But, for the reasons about to be 
stated, I have come, although somewhat hesitatingly, to the conclu- 
sion that the narrative of St. Luke, and those of St. Matthew and 



230 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

St. Mark, refer to different events, i. The narrative in St. Luke 
(which we shall call a) refers to the commencement of Christ's 
ministry, while those of St. Matthew and St. Mark (which we shall 
call b) are placed at a later period. Nor does it seem likely that 
our Lord would have entirely abandoned Nazareth after one rejection. 
2. In narrative a Christ is without disciples ; in narrative b He is 
accompanied by them. 3. In narrative a no miracles are recorded 
in fact, His words about Elijah and Elisha preclude any idea 
of them ; while in narrative b there are a few, though not many. 4. 
In narrative a He is thrust out of the city immediately after His 
sermon, while narrative b implies that He continued for some time 
in Nazareth, only wondering at their unbelief. If it be objected that 
Jesus could scarcely have returned to Nazareth after the attempt on 
His life, we must bear in mind that this purpose had not been 
avowed, and that His growing fame during the intervening period 
may have rendered 'such a return not only possible, but even advis- 
able. The coincidences as regards our Lord's statement about the 
Prophet, and their objection as to His being the carpenter's son, are 
only natural in the circumstances.' 

Farrar favours the view that only one visit to Nazareth is narrated. 
' And so He left them, never apparently to return again, never, if we 
are right in the view here taken, to preach again in their little 
synagogue.' 

Olshausen says : ' Schleiermacher has conclusively proved that the 
narratives refer to the same occurrence. For if the narrative of 
St. Matthew were transferred to the later years of Christ's life, it is 
not easy to suppose that the inhabitants of Nazareth could ask 
"Whence hath this Man this wisdom?" And still less can it be 
thought that the events recorded by St. Luke are posterior to those 
related by St. Matthew. In point of internal character both histories 
are entirely alike, and the single circumstance that countenances the 
idea of their being distinct, is the chronological succession of events. 
This very fact, however, is another proof that there is, especially in 
St. Matthew and St. Mark, the absence of any prominent attempt to 
trace the course of events according to the period of time in which 
they happened.' 



MATTERS OF SCIENCE. 231 



SECTION II. 
DIFFICULTIES RELATING TO MATTERS OF SCIENCE. 



INTRODUCTORY NOTE. 

' SCIENCE is knowledge ; it deals with what is, or may be, known ; 
compels a clear comprehension of truths or facts ; has little to do 
with ingenious theories.' 

Professor W. Griffiths skilfully indicates the general relation of 
Scripture to advancing modern science : * Ever since the great revival 
of learning, and the entry of science upon that prosperous career of 
discovery which she still pursues, alarm has been entertained by the 
disciples of revelation lest these two instructors of mankind should 
come into collision fatal to the pretensions of the latter. And the 
dread of this mischance has betrayed some into a nervous timidity, 
under whose influence they shrink from free inquiry themselves, and 
are slow to accept its proffered fruit from others. The enemies of 
the Faith have, at the same time, been quick to discern, and prone 
to exaggerate, real or apparent discrepancies between the disclosures 
of Nature and the statements of the Book, and are ever ready to pro- 
claim the authority of Scripture undermined. But neither the fears 
of friends nor the hopes of foes have as yet been realized. The 
annals of geography, astronomy, and geology supply notable instances 
of escape from shocks which threatened disaster to the Word of God, 
and show the folly of those frantic efforts, once made by superstition, 
to save the credit of the Bible by trying to arrest the march of science. 
Happily, no body of clergy could now be found to pronounce Colum- 
bus a heretic for holding it possible to get to the east by sailing west. 
The Church has ceased to maintain, on the presumed authority of 
Scripture, that we live upon a vast plain, not the surface of a globe. 
And, in our day, Galileo would not have been driven to the extremity 
of avoiding torture by recanting his theory of the earth's motion 
The Bible was not responsible for the crude notions about the earth 
and the solar system which prevailed in ignorant times, and soon the 
proscribed views were fully established, without prejudice to the 
Christian Faith. But the friends of the Church are proverbially 
backward in trusting the inquisitive spirit of the age. Weak appre- 



232 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

hension, exploded in one direction, crops up somewhere else, and 
always lurks in the rear of bold research, as if prepared to clog its 
steps and prevent a progress too fast and far for the exigencies of 
theological belief. The rapid strides of geology have done much to 
keep the quaking phantom astir. Those who first hinted that sea- 
shells found at the tops of mountains could not be the remains of 
the Deluge were looked upon with an unfriendly eye both in Popish 
and Protestant circles. Again and again has the veracity of the 
Bible seemed to be called in question by the youthful science, but 
its announcements prove to be expository of, not contradictory to, 
the Word of God. Instead of being dishonoured, revelation is 
better understood. Not a few of the excrescences with which 
popular belief disfigured its pages have been swept away. Intelli- 
gent men have ceased to think that suffering and death were unknown 
on earth until after the fall of man ; that fossil plants and animals 
come from the Creator's hands as we find them ; that the world was 
made in six natural days ; and that the flood extended over every 
part of the habitable globe. . . . The science which now helps the 
Bible would, 1,000 years ago, have been a grievous obstacle in its path.' 

Differing views are held concerning the relations of science and 
the Bible. Some would take the position that the Bible, being an 
inspired book, should test all scientific facts and conclusions, and 
that we should distinctly refuse to recognise any scientific statement 
which seems opposed to the plain meaning of God's Word. But, as 
the exercise of men's faculties on material things that are adjusted to 
those faculties, science should be perfectly free and unfettered. We 
need ask from the scientific observer no more than competent truth- 
fulness and thoroughness. We will decide what we can do with his 
facts when we have them before us in an unquestionable form. We 
would not, if we could, make the Bible put conditions or limitations 
on the scientific man's observations and researches. If he is honest, 
he may be free. 

Some, on the other hand, think that science should test the Bible, 
since it has to deal with facts. But it is found that the man who 
cultures and uses the senses is always exposed to the temptation of 
bias and prejudice against the Bible, which appeals to man's moral 
and emotional nature, which the man of sense and fact readily 
despises. The science-man is over-quick at recognising things in 
the Word which cannot at once be fitted to his knowledge, and is 
impatient with the cautious friend of the Bible who suggests that 
possibly even science-facts may need correction, seeing the science- 
books of the past generation are practically useless for the science- 



MATTERS OF SCIENCE. 233 

students of this time. We decline the interference and the testing of 
science until, round her entire circle, she has reached irrefragable con- 
clusions^ and until she has learned sharply and satisfactorily to dis- 
tinguish between her facts and her theories about her facts. If 
science proposes to test our Bible, we simply decline her competency 
for any such undertaking. 

1 We should, as Christians, be absolutely fearless of all accurate 
and adequate statements of facts related to God's world of the seen. 
We should be ready to listen, receptively, to any man who can tell 
us the wonders of our earth and heaven. But we should be unwil- 
ling to hear any scientific man explain how his discoveries disagree 
with our Bible. We simply tell him to keep to his own business, 
which is to find facts and construct theories. We can settle for our- 
selves how the seen in Nature and the unseen in the Bible that which 
is apprehended by the sense, and that which is apprehended by the 
soul are in the eternal harmony of the One Divine and Holy Will ; 
or, if we cannot quite see now, we are content to wait awhile for the 
harmonizing. We refuse to argue any scientific question on Bible 
grounds.' 

An ever-increasing number of thoughtful persons are asking whether 
we have been right in our method of associating science and the 
Bible. What have they to do with each other? Where comes in 
the point of their connection ? Is it not quite possible that both the 
friends of science and the friends of the Bible have assumed have 
perhaps even forced relations which have become the occasions of 
needless difficulty ? * The object of the Bible is not to teach science, 
but moral and spiritual truth. Scientific facts and truths may be dis- 
covered by the intellect and industry of man, and hence no revela- 
tion of them is needed. But our origin and destiny, our relations to 
God, the way of peace and purity, 'the link between the here and the 
hereafter the highest wisdom of man has only guessed at these 
things, and here comes the need that God shall speak.' 

The appeal of the Bible is not, primarily, to man as an intellectual 
being, but as a moral being. A Bible for the scientific if one had 
been necessary would have taken scientific form. A Bible for man 
as a moral being has precise adaptation to his moral condition and 
necessities. As an intellectual book, or set of books, the Bible 
reflects the science-knowledge of the age which each of its books 
represents. As a moral book, the Bible meets the enduring condi- 
tions of moral being in every age and clime. 

From the literary point of view it is unreasonable to expect, in any 
book, absolute accuracy in any other matters than those which belong 



234 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

strictly to the main subject of the book. ' In history any matter of 
science touched upon would be only casual, and whatever scientific 
errors or inadvertencies might occur would not impair its value as a 
narrative of facts. So a treatise on mathematics would not be the 
less trustworthy as a guide in working out difficult problems, simply 
because there might be words mis-spelled, or inaccurate statements 
about geography.' Every book is judged by its main purpose ; all 
else is incidental. No book was ever written that a specialist, in 
some other department of knowledge than that dealt with in the 
book, could not find fault with. But we never would allow this to 
subtract from the value of the book to us within its own proper lines. 
In our great national classic, Shakespeare's poems, there are some 
extraordinary errors in botany and natural history, but no one ever 
dreamed of undervaluing Shakespeare because of these errors. If 
the Bible is found to be trustworthy and efficient on its own moral 
and religious lines, it is a matter of comparative indifference that it 
should be found incorrect on matters incidentally introduced, of 
which it does not pretend to treat. 

A similar conclusion is reached by treating the subject historically. 
The Bible is a product of many and varying ages. Scientific know- 
ledge had its birth-times, and its growing times, in those ages. At 
first it depended on imperfect observation ; gradually observation 
gained some kind of scientific training ; then mere observation was 
aided by instruments, and the modern scientific knowledge is almost 
wholly the product of the telescope and the microscope and the 
spectroscope, used according to the Baconian method. Books 
written before the invention of these instruments, and before the 
adoption of Bacon's method, would have been unsuitable to their 
age, unnatural, out of harmony with current opinion and sentiment, 
if they had referred in any way to such things. If they were abreast 
of the best knowledge of their time, we are fully satisfied with them. 
All we can reasonably ask of any book is, that it shall be true to 
eternal principles of righteousness ; and, in all variable questions, all 
matters in which there can be growth and advance in knowledge, that 
it shall be in line with the current opinion, or only just enough in 
advance of it to lead on the new generation. A book out of harmony 
with its age would be ineffective in its age ; men could do no good 
with it. And it should never be forgotten that the Bible had its first 
and immediate mission to those persons who first received it, book 
by book ; and the first thing we should require to recognise is, that each 
book was strictly adapted to the apprehension, and to the capacity, 01 
those who first received it. 



MATTERS OF SCIENCE. 235 

This may readily be illustrated by the poetical and figurative 
speech of our Bible. There is much of it for which we have to 
make meanings, because we know nothing of those local and tem- 
porary circumstances which gave point to the figures when they were 
written. And we can plainly see that Bible readers of the olden 
time would have been able to make nothing of their Bible if its 
figures had been taken from the exact science of these Baconian 
days. 

It is important that we should observe within what very narrow 
limitations scientific matters are introduced in Scripture. Apart from 
the apparently precise descriptions of the Creation and the Flood, we 
have no authoritative deliverance about any question as to which man 
is intellectually competent to search for himself. Side allusions there 
may be, casual and illustrative references there may be, but no Bible 
writer claims Divine authority for statements he may make that are 
aside of his Divine commission. Beyond the legendary chapters of 
Genesis, which demand a separate and distinct treatment, there is no 
scientific statement in the whole Word of God that is gravely dis- 
putable, or beyond reasonable, easy, and common-sense explanation. 
When we have ceased, in familiar speech, to talk of the ' sun-rising 
and the sun-setting,' we may begin to complain of the Bible writers 
expressing themselves in the line of their natural observation rather 
than in the line of scientific precision. Sometimes we have tried to 
conceive how the Bible could have been better done, so as to accord 
with this nineteenth-century science. But we are landed at once in 
hopeless difficulties. Why should the Bible accord with nineteenth- 
century science rather than with twelfth-century science, or fourth- 
century science, or twenty-fourth-century science ? Why should it be 
expected to fit exactly the ideas of evolutionists rather than the ideas 
of theurgists, or alchemists, or materialists ? If the Bible had come 
to us with a clear nineteenth-century science stamp upon it, its 
enemies would have been delighted ; they would have gladly pounced 
on such things, and loudly declared that they proved the Book to be 
a deception, for they showed its late origin. Such things could not 
have been known before their time. 

It cannot be too firmly declared that the Bible bears no necessary 
relation to science. It leaves it alone, and asks to be left alone by 
it. The Bible is this, and only this a gracious revelation of that 
which man supremely needs to know, as a responsible moral being, 
but either cannot find by personal and independent research, or is 
led, by his sinfulness, to confuse and misrepresent. Science deals 
with invariable things, of which man is only able, at any given time, 



236 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

to gain a variable and imperfect apprehension. The Bible deals with 
invariable things, in another sphere, of which man had invariable and 
adequate apprehension from the first. Moral principles were re- 
vealed at once, and the Bible deals with their recovery from the 
confusion into which man has put them. 

Has nineteenth-century science a fair claim to the absolute con- 
fidence it demands ? Will the twentieth century find no corrections 
of even the most positive conclusions of the nineteenth ? The 
ancient Egyptians of the embalming days might have claimed 
absolute certainty for their facts. So might Aristotle. So might the 
Hindoo philosophers. In spite of the very strong assertions made 
in behalf of modern science, and with the fullest sympathy in all 
earnest labour for the enlargement of human knowledge, the cautious 
man will hold even the most positive conclusions open to correction. 
He will say, The healthy eye is the only eye we can assume to have 
the perfect vision, and we cannot be sure that every scientific 
observer's eye is healthy. Men find out their facts by the aid of 
instruments, and no absolutely perfect instrument ever yet came from 
human hands. No instrument was ever yet made which could not 
be improved. And if we have now conclusions reached by instru- 
ments which multiply a thousand times, how can we be sure that 
there will be no corrections of those observations and conclusions 
when the instruments multiply ten thousand times ? Scientific men 
must be men of faith and imagination, as well as of observation. 
They must trust, and work on the basis of, each other's conclusions. 
They must, inventively, try to find out what the things they see are 
like ; and so the elements of uncertainty are always present. Those 
they trust may not be faithful or competent. And they have no 
ground for positive assertion until they have not only shown what 
things are like, but also that they are like those things, and nothing 
else. 

If we think precisely, we shall be disposed to say that certainty 
belongs alone to morals ; and the results of human observation can 
only be in measure true, true to date, true to capacity, true to the 
instruments of inquiry. It is only the ' Word of God that abideth 
for ever.' 

It may be helpful to give some passages from modern Christian 
writers which may be regarded as supporting the general views to 
which expression has been given. 

Professor Drummond says of the record of creation : ' What we 
have to note is that a scientific theory of the universe formed no part 



MATTERS OF SCIENCE. 237 

)f the original writer's intention. Dating from the childhood of the 
vorld, written for children, and for that child-spirit in man which 
emains unchanged by time, it takes colour and shape accordingly, 
fts object is purely religious, the point being, not how certain things 
A^ere made, but that God made them. It is not dedicated to science, 
3Ut to the soul. It is a sublime theology, given in view of ignorance, 
Dr idolatory, or polytheism, telling the worshipful youth of the world 
that the heavens, and the earth, and every creeping and flying thing, 
were made by God.' 

Professor Agar Beet says : ' We have no reason to expect that 
this record would contain anticipations of the discoveries of modern 
science ; and if not, its writers could hardly avoid using here and 
there forms of speech contradicting these later discoveries.' 

Professor Jowett points out that ' what is progressive is necessarily 
imperfect in its earlier stages, and even erring to those who come 
after, whether it be the maxims of a half-civilised world which are 
compared with those of a civilised one, or the Law with the Gospel.' 
* Any true doctrine of inspiration must conform to all well-ascertained 
facts of history or of science. The same fact cannot be true and 
untrue, any more than the same words can have two opposite 
meanings. The same fact cannot be true in religion when seen by 
the light of faith, and untrue in science when looked at through the 
medium of evidence or experiment. It is ridiculous to suppose that 
the sun goes round the earth in the same sense in which the earth 
goes round the sun ; or that the world appears to have existed, but 
has not existed, during the vast epochs of which geology speaks to 
us. But if so, there is no need of elaborate reconcilements of 
revelation and science ; they reconcile themselves the moment any 
scientific truth is distinctly ascertained. As the idea of nature 
enlarges, the idea of revelation also enlarges ; it was a temporary 
misunderstanding which severed them.' 

Dr. Monro Gibson, in a popular address, said : { When things in 
Nature are referred to in the Bible, it is in language which the people 
of the time could understand. There was no attempt to speak over 
the little heads of the people of the time to the big folks that live in 
the nineteenth century, and represent its glorious culture. The Bible 
speaks about Nature in a natural way in a way that would be natural 
to the people of the time ; and that is what all sensible people do, 
and that is what all sensible people approve except when they are 
very badly off for something to say against the Bible. There is no 
pedantry in the Bible; no affectation of scientific accuracy; no 
attempt to anticipate modern discoveries.' 



238 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

Professor W. Griffiths sums up a discussion of the relations 
between science and the Bible in these words : * At present the 
precise relations of the Bible to science cannot be definitely fixed ; 
for, on each side, the exploration of their joint ground is still going 
on ; and the investigation that has already yielded unexpected 
harmonies, which strengthen the proofs of revelation, will probably 
greet us again with surprises of a similar nature and power. More 
points of agreement will doubtless appear, when the learned have 
thoroughly sifted all particulars common to the two Divine Records ; 
which hope holds out the prospect of a new chapter of Christian 
Evidence to be compiled in the future.' 



GENERAL NOTE ON HEBREW SCIENCE. 

The Hebrews were in no sense a scientific people. They had no 
special interest either in the arts or the sciences. Their genius lay 
in their power to discern the Divine relation to things. Things, by 
themselves, were not important in their eyes ; they did not care to 
study them. The mystery they loved to search out was the working 
of God in and through them. In a good sense they were in the 
wonder-stages of national childhood, and found God in Nature, God 
in providence, God in history, God in relationships, even as they 
apprehended God in His tabernacle and temple. They were not 
inquisitive ; there was no thirst for Nature knowledge. The Jew- 
boy's text-book was the Bible, and his first lessons were learned from 
Leviticus. The highest reaches of Jewish learning kept well within 
moral lines. The heathen might be astronomers and astrologers and 
variously wise in the things of a material world ; but the Jew even 
the most enlightened Rabbi was but a casuist in the application of 
moral rules. He did not mind adding to the law of God ; he thought 
of it as unfolding the applications of the law of God, but he regarded 
it as unworthy and wrong to venture beyond the strict limitations of 
the Revealed Word. 

The science of the day was enough even for the intelligent and 
educated Jew. He accepted it, he used it ; he never thought of 
criticizing it, or of improving it. And when he wrote books on his 
proper moral lines, he put in the commonplace scientific ideas of his 
day if he happened to need them for illustrative purposes. We have, 
therefore, in the books of the Bible, just the marked and character- 
istic features of Jewish literature. 



GENERAL NOTE ON HEBREW SCIENCE. 239 

No doubt the period of Solomon was marked by that attention to 
natural science which is the common feature of swiftly-advancing 
civilization. But it was quite a temporary and passing feature. 
There is no indication whatever that it was maintained. It was the 
personal influence of a man of genius, and it took no permanent root 
in Jewish soil. There is no Jewish system of astronomy, or mathe- 
matics, or natural history, or chemistry, or medicine. There is not 
even any Jewish system of philosophy. In a scientific sense, 
there is no attempt at constructing a theology. What we under- 
stand by science is wholly foreign to the natural genius of the 
Hebrew. 

Dean Stanley says all that can be said of the Solomonic science, 
and it is but very little that he can say : ' Solomon was, at least in 
one extensive branch, the founder, the representative, not merely of 
Hebrew wisdom, but of Hebrew science. As Alexander's conquests 
had supplied the materials for the first natural history of Greece, so 
Solomon's commerce did the like for the first natural history of Israel. 
" He spake of trees," from the highest to the lowest, " from the 
spreading cedar-tree of Lebanon to the slender caper-plant that 
springs out of the crevice of the wall. He spake also of beasts, and 
of fowls, and of creeping things, and of fishes." We must look at him 
as the first great naturalist of the world, in the midst of the strange 
animals the apes, the peacocks which he had collected from 
India ; in the gardens, among the copious springs of Etham, or in 
the bed of the deep ravine beneath the wall of his newly-erected 
temple, where, doubtless, was to be seen the transplanted cedar, 
superseding the humble sycamore of Palestine the " paradise of 
rare plants, gathered from ftir and near pomegranates, with pleasant 
fruits ; camphire with spikenard, spikenard and saffron, calamus and 
cinnamon with all trees of frankincense ; myrrh and aloes, with all 
their chief spices." Of his science the sacred writings tell enough to 
show us that, in pursuing this great study, we are his true followers ; 
that the geologist, the astronomer, but especially the botanist and the 
naturalist, may claim him as their first professor.' 

But Stanley significantly adds : ' If the object of revelation had 
been to teach us the wonders of the natural creation, to anticipate 
Linnaeus and Cuvier, here was the time, here was the occasion, here 
were the works on Hebrew science ready to be enrolled at once in 
the canon of Scripture. But not so. They have passed away. We 
have the advantage of Solomon's example, but we have not the ad- 
vantage, or, it may be, the disadvantage, of his speculations and his 
discoveries.' And in truth there was in Solomon's science more casual 



2 4 o HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

observation than precise research, and more magic than knowledge. 
The school-child of to-day knows more and better than wise Solomon 
of old, and at least knows this, that it would be folly to make even 
wise Solomon a teacher in natural studies. 

Home remarks that 'the Hebrews made but little progress in 
science and literature after the time of Solomon.' ' Astronomy does 
not appear to have been much cultivated by the Hebrews ; the laws 
of Moses, indeed, by no means favoured this science, as the neigh- 
bouring heathen nations worshipped the host of heaven ; hence the 
sacred writers rarely mention any of the constellations by name.' 
' The study of astrology, which was intimately connected with that of 
astronomy, and was very highly estimated among the neighbouring 
nations, was interdicted to the Hebrews.' (Deut. xviii. 10; Lev. 
xx. 27). 

Dr. E. Stapfer considers with care the leading scientific notions 
of the Jews in the time of our Lord, and compels us to be thankful 
that the Bible in no way sets its seal upon the crude notions then 
entertained. He makes us quite glad that the Bible is, in no sense 
whatever, a scientific book. ' The Jews of the time of Christ gave 
the name of science to the study of the law, and the more or less 
philosophical speculations connected with it. The Christians, who 
devoted themselves from the first century to the metaphysical con- 
templation of Divine things, gave to this study also the name of 
science (gtwsis). We ask, what were the scientific acquirements of 
an educated man in Palestine at the time of Christ ? Did he know 
arithmetic ? Did he know anything of natural history ? What were 
his ideas of astronomy? of geography? Of arithmetic we can say 
nothing ; it is barely alluded to in the Old Testament. Natural 
history, or at least zoology, seems to have been cultivated to some 
extent, for the descriptions of animals and of their habits often occur 
in the sacred writings. But there are only very primitive attempts at 
classification. About the cosmic system the Jews had broader 
notions, though scarcely more precise. They had a great idea of the 
vastness of the universe. " It would take 500 years," we read in the 
tract " Beracoth," " to traverse the distance between the earth and 
the sky immediately overhead. The same interval separates one 
heaven from another, and again there is the same distance between 
the two extremities of the heaven traversed in its breadth." As to 
the stars, they gave names to certain constellations ; Orion, the Great 
Bear, and others, are spoken of in the Book of Job. It must be 
noted also that the word " Rakia " in Genesis, which we translate 
firmament, properly signifies solid surface, and the Jews imagined the 



GENERAL NOTE ON HEBRE W SCIENCE. 241 

blue of the sky to be solid. When it rained, they thought the water 
passed through holes pierced in this surface. These openings are 
the "windows of heaven," or the "fountains of the deep." The 
earth was to them, as to the whole ancient world, the centre of the 
universe, and all the stars revolved around that immovable plane. 
The Jew looked upon the earth as a circular plane. God is seated 
above this plane, the circumference of which had been originally 
traced by Him on the abyss. The four cardinal points are called 
the ends of the heavens, the four sides or corners of the earth, or 
the four winds. Jerusalem is the centre of the round flat disc which 
forms the earth ; at the edge of the disc is the sea, the great sea 
upon which no one had yet ventured far. Their science had no 
surer basis than the direct testimony of the senses and childish 
observation.' 

One thing is perfectly clear. The use of Old Testament Scriptures, 
through long ages, did not correct commonly received errors in rela- 
tion to scientific matters, and we are therefore fully entitled to say 
that those Scriptures bore no mission in relation to such matters. It 
is the inspired book of morals and religion, and its scientific allusions 
are accidental and illustrative. 



GENERAL NOTE ON SCIENTIFIC FACT AND 
SCIENTIFIC THEORY. 

The absolutely necessary faculty of the scientific man is the power 
of precise and persistent observation, which is, primarily, a sense- 
faculty. But along with this should go two other powers, that which 
comes out of competency of general knowledge ; and the ability to 
generalize, and construct theories. But it is usually found that the 
culture of the strictly observant faculties tends to weaken and limit 
the theorizing faculty ; so we learn to look to one set of men for 
facts, and to another set of men for theories. Or to put the same 
thing in another form, the scientist and the philosopher are seldom 
found united in the same person. 

Another consideration demands our attention. Theories are per- 
petually being constructed on incomplete foundations of facts. And, 
indeed, from this point of view, all theories must be regarded as 
tentative only, because, if even we can fairly say that an array of 
facts is adequate for our purpose, we can never say that it is complete, 
And the additions which may be made to our facts may wholly 
subvert the theory. Theories are constantly being relegated to the 
limbo of curiosities, in consequence of new facts being discovered, as 

16 



242 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

may be efficiently illustrated in relation to the science of medicine. 
The observation of microbes is creating entirely new theories of 
disease, and its necessary treatment. 

It will be found that the Scriptures are never out of harmony with 
any fact of nature that science can competently observe, and faith- 
fully describe. And the challenge has been made, but has never 
been met, state simply some unquestionable, some universally 
recognised fact, which is at variance with Bible statements, when 
common-sense, and intellectual fairness, are allowed to present those 
statements. We are not bound by any law, human or Divine, to 
attempt to square our Scriptures with tentative and uncertain human 
theories. Much has indeed been made of the modern theory of 
Evolution. We are not bound to fit our Bible to it, because it has 
not yet a complete set of facts on which it can be based ; and it does 
not fairly and fully account for all the facts it has. No theory can be 
more than a working theory. None can be beyond the possibility of 
correction while there are any facts of nature still unobserved. 

It has been remarked that ' if there be certainty in science, it can 
only attach to the facts, not to men's theories about the facts, for these 
must carry with them the uncertainty that ever attaches to man-made 
theories, whatever their subject may be. Darwin may give us the 
facts he has carefully observed, and we receive them with confidence ; 
but Darwin's theories of evolution, based upon these facts, are open 
to discussion and doubt. Yet we often find that scientific men are 
more anxious about the theories than about the facts ; and the very 
same facts are made the bases of altogether differing theories.' 

Professor W. Griffiths deals skilfully with this distinction. * We 
should here, as in all subjects of inquiry, distinguish between know- 
ledge and mere speculation. Many of the pretentious theories, by 
which revelation is assailed, have scarcely a shadow of proof to bear 
them out. Sheer conjectures are thrust in the face of the religious 
public, with an assurance in inverse proportion to the evidence that 
can be advanced in their favour. If Christians pay prompt heed to 
every alarm bawled out in the name of science, their chronic state 
will be one of panic. Better, by far, wait to learn whether the report 
be not the windy effusion of some puffed-up imagination. Why 
echo what will soon die if not repeated ? And the hollowness of 
flimsy surmises which do not at once collapse must ere long be 
exposed by men of science themselves, the weak inferences of one 
student of nature being set aside by the sound inductions of another. 
The logical faculty in many scientists is sadly defective. They are 
little more than collectors of facts. They know not how to marshal 



ANCIENT ASTRONOMY. 243 

and vitalize their observations, that facts may become that sort of 
organic structure, a living argument. Yet persons, so wanting in the 
philosophic quality, are very fond of hypotheses, and mistake guesses 
for oracles, and rude materials, out of which knowledge may some 
day be formed, for knowledge itself. The defender of the Faith will 
do well to leave these erratic savants in the hands of their brethren ; 
who, by fighting their own battles, often unwittingly protect the 
orthodox creed.' 



SUB-SECTION. 

DIFFICULTIES RELATED TO ASTRONOMY, ASTROLOGY, 
AND MAGIC. 



Ancient Astronomy. 

JOB ix. 7-9 : ' Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not ; and sealeth up the 
stars. Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of 
the sea. Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the 
south.' 

Difficulty. Naming the constellations is indicative of an advanced 
condition of astronomy, and suggests a late date for the Book of Job. 

Explanation. It must be admitted that the Hebrews had no 
astronomical or astrological system through their early history, if they 
ever had. It is most unlikely that they would have special names 
for the constellations during their tribal age ; and only the contact 
with foreign lands and people, in the time of Solomon, provided the 
possibility of such scientific knowledge. If Job's career is fixed for 
a period before Abraham, it would appear an anachronism to associate 
with him the advanced ideas of the later Solomonic age. 

The names given to the constellations in Job are still retained, but 
they come to us through the Greek translation of them ; and it is not 
absolutely certain that the Hebrew terms are precisely rendered. 
Comparing the verse above with Job xxxviii. 31, 32, we find four 
terms cimah, cestl, 'ash, mazzaroth. Of these the Hebrew form, 
mazzaroth, has been retained, though the Latin translates it Luciferum, 
and the French ' les signes du Zodiaque? 

The other three terms present difficulty. There is great proba- 
bility that the constellation known to the Hebrews as cesil is the same 
as that which the Greeks called Orion, and the Arabs the Giant. 
The giant of Oriental astronomy was Nimrod, the mighty hunter, 

16 2 



244 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

who was fabled to have been bound in the sky for his impiety. The 
word cestl means a fool, or an impious, godless man ; and later inven- 
tion made the term descriptive of Nimrod, who was regarded as a 
rebel against God, and was called by the Arabs 'the mocker.' 

Cimah is the Hebrew word rendered 'the Pleiades' (called in Amos 
v. 8, * the seven stars '). The Rabbis speak of this as a collection of 
stars called in Arabic Al Thuraiya. Aben Ragel says, ' Al Thuraiya 
is the mansion of the moon, in the sign Taurus, and it is called the 
celestial hen with her chickens.' The identification with what we 
know as the Pleiades is regarded as fully justified. 

'Ash is represented by Arcturus, the constellation called 'the Bear.' 
The Hebrew name is supposed to have been derived from the 
Chaldaeans, but the exact meaning of it is uncertain. 

The Solomonic origin of the Book of Job is argued from many 
other and more important considerations than this ; but if that later 
date be admitted on other grounds, it suggests an easy and reasonable 
explanation of such an advanced astronomical reference as is found 
in these verses. The Speaker's Commentary gives a qualified approval 
to the suggestion of a late authorship. ' The supposition that we 
owe the book in its actual form to a writer of the Solomonian period 
has much in its favour; assuming, that is, that he used copious 
materials, existing in a dialect so nearly allied to the Hebrew as to 
require little more than occasional glosses, and some revision of 
grammatical forms and construction. This hypothesis meets, in fact, 
many difficulties.' 

Light before the Sun. 

GENESIS i. 3, 14 : * And God said, Let there be light ; and there was light. 
And God said. Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven, to divide the 
day from the night.' 

Difficulty. We trace all light to the sun, and cannot conceive of 
light existing before, or independently of, the sun. 

Explanation. This is a notion which has no better basis than 
natural observation and commonly -received opinion. Science 
corrects it, and reveals other lights independent of our sun. The 
' fixed stars,' as they are called, stand related to other suns than ours, 
and cannot be said to depend on it for their light ; though it might 
fairly be suggested that no light is apprehensible by our senses which 
does not come through, and is not affected by, the atmosphere in 
which our sun rules, so that what we can see is always toned by our 
sun. 

But we may be pressing the language of the early legendary record 



LIGHT BEFORE THE SUN. 245 

too hard if we make the order of the days absolutely describe the 
processes of creation. Poetry knows no restraint of logic, and will 
set things in separate scenes which, in fact, are continuous and over- 
lapping processes. Imagination can conceive light existing before it 
is focussed in the sun, and set in relations with one particular system. 
And in the account of creation there is no assertion of the existence 
of light before the sun ; properly treated the record declares two 
things: (i) It was God who made the light. (2) It was God who 
set the light in its place of rule for the earthly day and night. God's 
relation to all the notions of light we can have is the Mosaic assertion; 
and only through the discoveries of modern science could anyone have 
dreamed of making Moses assert that light existed before the sun. 

The early legends of nations are poetical in form, and conse- 
quently can be variously read and translated according to the know- 
ledge of each generation. And we are constantly falling into the 
error of thinking that things were actually designed in the legend, 
because we can make the language fit with what we have discovered. 
It is both wiser and safer to take the firm position, that the legends 
of Creation were not preserved in order to teach us the processes, or 
the order of the incidents, of the Creation, but to declare, in the most 
absolute and exclusive manner, the relation of the one God to every- 
thing that exists. The order of the days in the legend is poetical, not 
logical. ' The use of the term "day" to denote a prolonged period adds 
to the dramatic liveliness with which the Creator's task is described.' 

Hugh Miller makes a suggestion which certainly deserves a careful 
consideration ('Testimony of Rocks,' p. 134): 'Let me, however, 
pause for a moment to remark the peculiar character of the language 
in which we are first introduced, in the Mosaic narrative, to the 
heavenly bodies sun, moon, and stars. The moon, though abso- 
lutely one of the smaller lights of our system, is described as secondary 
and subordinate to only its greatest light, the sun.' [Miller might 
have added that the account gives no hint of the fact that the light 
of the moon is absolutely dependent on that of the sun a fact which 
the mere observer could never have found out, or even suspected.] 
4 It is the apparent, then, not the actual, which we find in the passage 
what seemed to be, not what was ; and as it was merely what 
appeared to be greatest that was described as greatest, on what 
grounds are we to hold that it may not also have been what appeared 
at the time to be made that has been described as made ? The sun, 
moon, and stars may have been created long before, though it was 
not until the fourth day of creation that they became visible from the 
earth's surface.' 



246 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

C. W. Goodwin, criticising this suggestion, says : * The theory 
founded upon this hint is that the Hebrew writer did not state facts 
(as we understand the term, verifiable, scientific facts), but merely 
certain appearances, and those not of things which really happened, 
but of certain occurrences which were presented to him in a vision, 
and that this vision greatly deceived him as to what he seemed to 
see; and thus, in effect, the real discrepancy of the narrative with 
facts is admitted. He had, in all, seven visions, to each of which he 
attributed the duration of a day, although, indeed, each picture pre- 
sented to him the earth during seven long, and distinctly marked, 
periods.' 

Bishop Wordsworth observes : ' It is not said that Light was now 
made, verse 3, as it is said that God made two great Lights, or rather 
light-holders, in verse 14. We are not to suppose that Light did not 
exist before this act of God. We need not be surprised that fossil 
animals, which have been disinterred from the earth, should have 
had eyes, although they existed before these words were uttered, and 
before the creation (?) of the sun ; for Moses is here describing a 
glorious revealing of Light, triumphing over the Darkness which had 
usurped its place. The earth existed as the wreck of an anterior 
creation, but strangely convulsed and fractured, submerged in water 
and shrouded in darkness. But when God saw fit to commence the 
new creation, and prepare the desolate earth for the abode of Man, 
the barrier, which shut out the Light, was removed by the Word of 
God, and Light broke in upon the waters. In the original Hebrew, 
Light is Or ; but the Sun is called Maor, a receptacle and vehicle of 
light' 

Duns says : ' Geology opens up to us world on world successively 
stocked by abounding forms of animal life, and of vegetation, for 
which sunlight was as necessary as it is for those of the Adamic 
epoch. There is thus no way of avoiding the inference that the orbs 
of heaven existed in all their beauty, and brightness, and strength, 
then as now. And, consequently, that the words descriptive of 
the fourth day point to adaptation, and not to creation properly 
so called.' 

The common-sense and reasonable explanation given by Kitto may 
be taken as summarising the points to which our attention should be 
directed. 'The greatest apparent difficulty in the history of the 
creation arises from the production of light on the first day ; whereas, 
in the sequel of the narrative, the creation of the sun and moon seems 
to be ascribed to the fourth day. Geology, which was at first regarded 
as increasing the difficulties of a solution, may now claim the credit 



LIGHT BEFORE THE SUN. 247 

of having pointed out the true sense in which these intimations are to 
be received. If we admit that the earth existed, and was replenished 
with successions of animal and vegetable life, before the whole was 
reduced to that chaotic confusion in which we find it before the work 
of reorganization commenced, we must allow also that the light of the 
sun shone upon it in those more ancient times. It appears by the 
fossil remains of those creatures which then walked the earth, but 
whose races were extinguished before man appeared, that they were 
furnished with eyes as perfect and wonderful in their structure as 
those of our present animals, and these eyes would, without light, 
have been useless ; and the vegetable productions which are always 
found in connection with these animals could not without light have 
flourished. Besides, the changes of day and night, which are 
described as existing before the fourth day, could not have existed 
without the sun, seeing that they depend on the earth's relation to 
that luminary. Geology concurs with Scripture in declaring the 
existence of the watery chaos previously to the era in which man and 
his contemporary animals received their being. The earth then 
existed as the wreck of an anterior creation, with all its previous and 
interim geological arrangements and fossil remains ; but strangely 
convulsed and fractured, submerged in water, and enshrouded in 
darkness. Thus it lay, probably for an immense period : life was 
extinct ; but matter continued subject to the same laws with which it 
had been originally endowed. The same attraction, the same repul- 
sion, the same combination of forces, which, by the will of God, have 
ever been inherent in it, still existed. The sun, then, acting by its 
usual laws upon so vast a body of waters, gradually, in the continuous 
lapse of ages, drew up a prodigious mass of dense and dark vapours, 
which, held suspended in the atmosphere, threw a pall of blackest 
night around the globe. All things beneath it became invisible, and 
no ray of light could pierce the thick canopy of darkness. Layer 
upon layer, in almost infinite succession of closely-packed and darkling 
clouds, filled the atmosphere, and absorbed every particle of light 
long before it could reach the surface of the earth ; and in the fullest 
extent was the language of Scripture justified, that ' darkness was 
upon the face of the deep.' 

But when God saw fit, in the fulness of time, to commence the new 
creation, and prepare the desolate earth for the abode of man, this dense 
barrier, which shut out the light, began at His high word to disperse, 
precipitate, or break up, and to let in light upon the waters. It was 
not likely to be, nor was it necessary to be, a sudden change from the 
depth of utter darkness to the blaze of sunny day, but the letting in 



248 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

of light without sunshine, the source of this light the body of the 
sun not becoming visible until the fourth day, when its full glory 
was disclosed, and when once more its beams shone through the 
purged atmosphere upon mountains and valleys, and upon seas and 
rivers, as of old.' 

It may, therefore, be fairly said that modern scientific discoveries 
and conclusions can be reasonably adjusted to fit the poetical form 
of the early legend of Creation, though that record was in no way 
intended to be descriptive of scientific processes. 



Chaldasan Astrologers. 

DANIEL ii. 2 : ' Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the 
astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldseans, for to shew the king his 
dreams.' 

Question. Within what limitations may we suppose these learned 
men to have worked ? and were their researches in any proper sense 
scientific ? 

Answer. The Revised Version gives 'enchanters' instead of 
' astrologers,' which leaves the classes mentioned as mere jugglers. 
But it would be to misjudge the ancient nations if we failed to admit 
that, upon a basis of observation, they constructed what may fairly 
be called an elaborate and scientific astrological system. 

F. D. Maurice gives an interesting account of the 'wise men/ 
both of Egypt and of Chaldaea : ' The wise men, magicians, or sooth- 
sayers, of whom we read in the Book of Exodus, were no doubt 
students of Nature. They had observed something of its powers 
and mysteries, some of the influences which it exercises over man, 
some of the means which he possesses of directing its influences to 
advantage or to mischief. There can be no doubt that they believed 
such knowledge to have been communicated by some Divine power. 
The Egyptian knowledge of the phenomena of the universe, and of 
its powers, was not balanced and sustained by any knowledge of the 
powers and destinies of man. Those who became acquainted with 
the things about them could not but feel that they, the observers, 
were in some way superior to that which they observed. It is clear 
that they had that conviction, that they were even oppressed by it. 
But the objects which they saw, the facts which were revealed to 
them, soon became all in all. They nearly lost themselves in the 
things ; their higher culture only helped to make the people the help- 
less servants of them. What he could tell of his discoveries made 
his countrymen idolaters ; what he reserved, made him feel his differ- 



CHALDEAN ASTROLOGERS. 249 

ence from them, and led him to affect new airs of superiority, to 
devise new arts for the purpose of keeping up the difference and the 
sense of it. Thus the sagacious man, from being a true observer, 
passed into a diviner ; thus he became the enslaver of those whom 
he should have emancipated, each new invention being, as it were, 
the creation of a new god. Such magicians are the great corrupters 
of kings, teaching them to rule by craft and not by righteousness, 
giving them animals for subjects, not human beings.' 

1 In Chaldsea we meet again the wise men such as we heard of in 
Egypt, but here they are especially spoken of as astrologers. The 
study of the heavenly bodies prevailed no doubt among the priests of 
Thebes and Memphis ; the first systematic observations respecting 
the course of the year may be rightly ascribed to them. On this 
knowledge their claims to superior intellect respecting human events 
will in part have rested. Because they knew more of Nature than 
others, they will have been able to divine what would probably 
happen to the fields or the crops. It is another step indicating a 
different order of thought and feeling to connect the stars directly 
with human life, and to believe that the course of the one is influenced 
or regulated by that of the other. 

'Wide plains, still and beautiful nights, are favourable to the de- 
velopment of such a faith ; perhaps only in such circumstances has 
it ever taken deep root. For in such circumstances we meet with a 
hunting rather than an agricultural people, with men whose specula- 
tions turn more upon the success of their efforts to procure food for 
themselves, than upon the chances that the earth will produce it for 
them. Physical knowledge in this condition of society is not to be 
looked for. Tyranny, the rule of a man claiming dominion over the 
beasts of the field, and over the creatures of his own race by the 
same right, will have here an earlier commencement. . . . The stars 
among this race of conquerors will have become dynasts or rulers 
over man's life. Subjects feeling themselves at a hopeless difference 
from their sovereigns, regarding them as beings of another kind, will 
have had no difficulty in looking upon these cold and distant and 
brilliant orbs as the Kings of kings and Lords of lords. The wise 
men, who hoped for something better from the world than that which 
they saw, will have asked these witnesses of calmness and order when 
a brighter day should come, when the world should be ruled with 
less of fantasy and caprice. The passion for knowing the future will 
have become indissolubly connected with the contemplation of the 
stars. A scheme of relations between them and the dwellers upon 
earth will have been wrought out. Guilty monarchs will have been 



2 5 o HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

perplexed with signs in the heavens ; they will eagerly have fled to 
the science of the astrologers for relief. In general they will have 
converted them into the ministers of their purposes, the props of 
their authority.' 

Cicero tells us that ' the Chaldaeans, inhabiting vast plains, whence 
they had a full view of the heavens on every side, were the first to 
observe the course of the stars, and the first who taught mankind the 
effects which were thought to be owing to them. Of their observa- 
tions they made a science whereby they pretended to be able to fore- 
tell to everyone what was to befall him, and what fate was ordained 
him from his birth.' 

The ancient astrologers reckoned the sun, moon, and planets as 
the interpreters of the will of the gods. From their rising, setting, 
colour, and general aspect, predictions were made as to the coming 
appearances of Nature in the way of tempests, hurricanes, earth- 
quakes, etc. The planets were viewed as affecting the destinies of 
men, so that from their nature and position information might be 
obtained as to the events which should befall a man throughout his 
whole life. 

Lucian explains that * the heavens were divided into several com- 
partments, over each of which a particular planet presided ; that 
some planets were good and some evil, while others had no special 
character of their own, but depended for their nature on those 
planets with which they were in conjunction. Such being the ar- 
rangements of the heavenly bodies, whatsoever planet is lord of the 
house at the time of any man's nativity produces in him a com- 
plexion, shape, actions, and dispositions of mind exactly answerable 
to its own.' 

Diodorus Siculus describes astrologers thus : ' They assert that the 
greatest attention is given to the five stars, called planets, which they 
name interpreters, so called because, while the other stars have a 
fixed path, they alone, by forming their own course, show what things 
will come to pass, thus interpreting the will of the gods ; for to those 
who study them carefully they foretell events, partly by their rising, 
partly by their setting, and also by their colour. Sometimes they 
show heavy winds, at others rains, at others excess of heat. The 
appearance of comets, eclipses of the sun, earthquakes, and, in 
general, anything extraordinary, has, in their opinion, an injurious or 
a beneficial effect, not only on nations and countries, but on kings, 
and even on common individuals ; and they consider that those stars 
contribute very much of good or of ill in relation to the births of 
men, and in consequence of the nature of these things, and of the 



CHALDEAN ASTROLOGERS. 25 1 

study of the stars, they think they know accurately the events that 
befall mortals.' 

The position which may reasonably be taken appears to be this : 
Astrology is a strange mixture of facts and fancies. Man is unques- 
tionably influenced by atmospheric conditions, but the relations were 
arranged by imagination, without the restraint of any scientific 
method. The astrological system may be classed among scientific 
systems that are based on unscientific foundations. There could be 
no true science of the stars until man's observation was aided by 
efficient instruments. The mere observation of the stars is incentive 
to meditation, worship, and imaginative inventiveness. We know 
how, in our dreamy moods, the evening clouds seem to assume for 
us weird and fantastic shapes, and the names given to the stars 
(Great Bear, etc.) tell us that ancient imaginations created fantastic 
forms out of the groups of stars. 

Astronomy has taken the place of astrology. Both may fairly 
claim to be scientific creations. They differ in precisely this : 
Astronomy is a scientific construction resting on data and observa- 
tions scientifically obtained and verified. 

For the various orders into which the class of astrologers may be 
divided see the previous volume, ' Handbook of Biblical Difficulties,' 
p. 224. 

A Witch. 

FXODUS xxii. 18 : ' Thou shalt not suffer a witch (sorceress, R.V.) to live.' 

Difficulty. The severity with which a witch was to be treated 
seems to indicate that such persons did possess some occult and malevolent 
powers. 

Explanation. This subject has been treated in the former 
volume, 'Handbook of Biblical Difficulties,' p. 278, in connection 
with King Saul's visit to the woman at Endor. It may be helpful to 
add two opinions on the substratum of verity in the pretensions of 
these so-called ' witches,' both given with care and precision. 

Ayre says : ' It is a question how far divination was an imposition. 
That much imposture was mixed with it no one will deny. But it 
may not unreasonably be believed that some dark superior influence 
was at work. We may not attempt to define it. But if, as we know, 
the prince of the power of the air had sway over the children of dis- 
obedience (Eph. ii. 2), and evidenced his dominion in many remark- 
able cases, it may be that sometimes the soothsayers, the magicians, 
the sorcerers, were helped in their evil courses by him whose slaves 



252 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

they were. Be this, however, as it may, whether the whole were 
imposture, or whether there was some reality in it, the law of God 
was holy, just, and good, which condemned and punished it.' 

R. S. Poole says : * In examining the mentions of magic in the 
Bible, we must keep in view the curious inquiry whether there be 
any reality in the art. We would, at the outset, protest against the 
idea, once very prevalent, that the conviction that the seen and 
unseen worlds were often more manifestly in contact in the Biblical 
ages than now necessitates a belief in the reality of the magic spoken 
of in the Scriptures. We do indeed see a connection of a super- 
natural agency with magic in such a case as that of the damsel 
possessed with a spirit of divination mentioned in the Acts ; yet there 
the agency appears to have been involuntary in the damsel, and 
shrewdly made profitable by her employers. This does not establish 
the possibility of man being able at his will to use supernatural powers 
to gain his own ends, which is what magic has always pretended to 
accomplish. Thus much we premise, lest we should be thought to 
hold latitudinarian opinions, because we treat the reality of magic as 

an open question The account of Saul's consulting the witch 

of Endor is the foremost place in Scripture of those which refer to 
magic. The supernatural terror with which it is full cannot, however, 
be proved to be due to this art, for it has always been held by sober 
critics that the appearing of Samuel (in the original it is Samuel 
himself) was permitted for the purpose of declaring the doom of 
Saul, and not that it was caused by the incantations of the sorceress. 
.... Our examination of the various notices of magic in the Bible 
gives us this general result : They do not, as far as we can under- 
stand, once state positively that any but illusive results were produced 
by magical rites. They therefore afford no evidence that man can 
gain supernatural powers to use at his will. This consequence goes 
some way towards showing that we may conclude that there is no 
such thing as real magic ; for although it is dangerous to reason on 
negative evidence, yet in a case of this kind it is especially strong. 
The general belief of mankind in magic, or things akin to it, is of no 
worth, since the holding such current superstition in some of its 
branches, if we push it to its legitimate consequences, would lead to 
the rejection of faith in God's government of the world, and the 
adoption of a creed far below that of Plato.' 

But we logical Westerns are always in grave danger of failing to 
understand the illogical and imaginative Easterns. And magic may 
have appeared to them otherwise than it appears to us, who persist 
in subjecting everything to what we call scientific verification. 



A WITCH. 253 

Mr. Poole carefully traces the history of magic in the early races, 
and prepares us to see how education and civilization surely dispel 
all belief in it. He says : ' With the lowest race magic is the chief 
part of religion. The Nigritians, or blacks of this race, show this in 
their extreme use of amulets and their worship of objects which have 
no other value in their eyes, but as having a supposed magical 
character through the influence of supernatural agents. With the 
Turanians, or corresponding whites of the same great family we 
use the word white for a group of nations mainly yellow, in contra- 
distinction to black incantations and witchcraft occupy the same 
place, shamanism characterizing their tribes in both hemispheres. 
.... With the Shemites magic takes a lower place. Nowhere is it 
even part of religion ; yet it is looked upon as a powerful engine, 
and generally unlawful or lawful according to the aid invoked. The 
importance of astrology with the Shemites has tended to raise the 
character of their magic, which deals rather with the discovery of 
supposed existing influences than with the production of new in- 
fluences. The Iranians assign to magic a still less important position. 
It can scarcely be traced in the relics of old nature-worship, which 
they, with greater skill than the Egyptians, interwove with their more 
intellectual beliefs, as the Greeks gave the objects of reverence in 
Arcadia and Crete a place in poetical myths, and the Scandinavians 
animated the hard remains of primitive superstition. Men of highly 
sensitive temperaments have always inclined to the belief in magic, 
and there has, therefore, been a section of Iranian philosophers in 
all ages who have paid attention to its practice ; but, expelled from 
religion, it has held but a low and precarious place in philosophy.' 
The Hebrews had no magic of their own. 

In treating of the possible power behind wizards and witches, it is 
more important to consider the receptivity, sensitiveness, and super- 
stition of those whom they delude, than the nature of their own 
power. The readiness to be deceived almost suffices to explain the 
skill of the deceiver. If there were no dupes there would be no 
cheats. We do not hesitate to affirm that all the effects produced 
by wizards and witches may be accounted for by the operation of 
natural causes ; and that, however the existence of spirits, malevolent 
spirits, may be argued from other points of view, no support for 
their existence can be fairly obtained from the claims of the witches, 
whose power whatever it is is their own. 



254 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

The Appointment of the Rainbow. 

GENESIS ix. 13 : ' I do set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a 
covenant between Me and the earth.' 

Question. How does the scientific explanation of the rainbow help 
to the understanding of this reference to it as a sign ? 

Answer. ' Rainbows are of two kinds, solar and lunar. The 
latter are of comparatively rare occurrence ; the former are those 
referred to in the Bible. The rainbow is seen when the sun is 
shining on rain falling in the part of the atmosphere on which the 
spectator's eye is fixed. When the rays strike the falling drops they 
are refracted as they enter them, and reflected back on the rain-cloud. 
On leaving the drops a second refraction of rays takes place, and the 
result is the rainbow. When the rain falls in considerable quantities, 
and the circumstances now named concur, a second bow is often 
seen concentric with the first, the prismatic colours in both being 
arranged in bands as in the solar spectrum the order, however, 
being reversed in the second bow. Instead of the upper edge being, 
as in the exterior bow, violet, it is red, and the lower edge is violet 
instead of red. The cloud is generally dark on which the bow 
appears, though this is not always the case. Rainbows have been 
seen when only a few light fleecy clouds were scattered over the sky, 
and more than once they have been observed when no clouds were 
perceptible.' That the rainbow is a result of universally working 
natural law is illustrated by the fact that they are created in miniature 
by the sunlight falling on the spray from a waterfall. The scientific 
man will refuse to admit that, at any time, or under any circum- 
stances, the result would fail to appear if the given conditions were 
found. This must be fully and freely admitted ; rainbows were always 
formed when sunshine in the atmosphere was reflected from falling 
drops of water. 

It is not reasonable to assume that the rainbow must have been a 
special creation after the Flood. Common-sense assumes what the 
language of the Bible narrative distinctly supports, that the existing 
rainbow had, from the time of the restoration of the earth, a new 
suggestion associated with it. Its appearance in the sky was to 
suggest to man God's promise, and God's faithfulness to His promise. 
It was specially significant because, as a natural phenomenon, it came 
when sunshine broke out after passing storm. Only by unnatural 
forcing of the Bible language can Bible authority be claimed for the 
idea of a readjustment of natural conditions to produce the rainbow 
as a new thing. 



THE APPOINTMENT OF THE RAINBOW. 255 

This is now generally admitted, but as the error still lingers among 
us, it may be well to give some authoritative judgments on the 
subject. 

The helplessness of all attempts to scientifically explain the origina- 
tion of the rainbow in Noah's time, indicates to what straits the advo- 
cates of that theory are driven. We give one specimen : * Though 
it had rained before the deluge, yet the superintending Providence 
which caused the rainbow to appear as a pledge of the assurance that 
He gave (that the world should never more be destroyed by water), 
might have prevented the concurrence of such circumstances in the 
time of rain as were essentially necessary for the formation of a bow. 
It might have rained when the sun was set, or when he was more 
than fifty-four degrees high, when no bow could be seen, and the 
rain might continue between the spectator and the sun until the 
clouds were expended, or in any other direction but that of an 
opposition to the sun.' 

But the existence of rain long before man is evidenced by the 
impressions of rain-drops found in several geological formations. And 
no evidence whatever can be adduced to show that atmospheric con- 
ditions were different in antediluvian times from what they have been 
since. ' The general opinion of theologians and expositors is, that 
the rainbow did not then appear visible for the first time, but 
that it was then set, or appointed, or given, as the token of the 
covenant.' 

Dr. Gumming says : c The literal rendering is, " I do appoint My 
bow in the cloud ;" and the very expression shows that the rainbow 
must have existed prior to the Flood though it was subsequent to 
the Flood that it became a symbol, or sign, to denote that the world 
should never again be overflowed. If there were raindrops and sun- 
beams before the Flood, there must have been rainbows, because the 
rainbow is produced by the refraction of the rays of light from the 
drops of water which fall in a shower. But the Bible does not assert 
that God created the rainbow immediately after the Flood, but that 
He then applied it to this special use, just as He applied the twelve 
stones set up after the children of Israel had crossed the Jordan, as 
He still applies bread and wine in the Lord's supper, and water in 
baptism namely, old things for new uses, sacred symbols to give 
consolation and peace to true believers.' 

Bishop Home suggestively paraphrases the above passage. ' When, 
in the common course of things, I bring a cloud over the earth, under 
certain circumstances, I do set My bow in it. That bow shall be 
from henceforth a token of the covenant I now make with you to 



256 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

drown the earth no more by a flood. Look upon it, and remember 
this covenant.' 

Prebendary Eddrup, in ' Smith's Dictionary,' says : ' The right 
interpretation of Gen. ix. 13 seems to be that God took the rainbow, 
which had hitherto been but a beautiful object shining in the heavens 
when the sun's rays fell on falling rain, and consecrated it as the sign 
of His love, and the witness of His promise.' 

Dean Payne Smith says : ' We may dismiss all such curious specu- 
lations as that no rain fell before the Flood, or that some condition 
was wanting necessary for producing this glorious symbol. What 
Noah needed was a guarantee and a memorial which, as often as rain 
occurred, would bring back to his thoughts the Divine promise ; and 
such a memorial was best taken from the natural accompaniments of 
rain. We may further notice, with Maimonides, that the words are 
not, as in our version, "I do set," but, "J/y bow have I set in the 
cloud " that is, the bow which God set in the cloud on that day of 
creation in which He imposed upon air and water those laws which 
produce this phenomenon, is now to become the sign of a solemn 
compact made with man by God, whereby He gives man the assur- 
ance that neither himself nor his works shall ever again be swept 
away by a flood.' 

The Speakers Commentary says : ' It appears at first sight as if the 
words of the sacred record implied that this was the first rainbow 
ever seen on earth. But it would be doing no violence to the sacred 
text to believe that the rainbow had been already a familiar sight, but 
that it was newly constituted the sign or token of a covenant, just as 
afterwards the familiar rite of baptism, and the customary use of 
bread and wine, were by our blessed Lord ordained to be the tokens 
and pledges of the New Covenant in Christ between His heavenly 
Father and every Christian soul.' 

Geikie has a very interesting note : ' The first covenant between 
God and man was confirmed by a sign worthy of a transaction so 
unique. The rainbow had glittered on the clouds for immeasurable 
ages before man's creation, but it was now to be adopted as a Divine 
pledge of goodwill to our race. Other covenants would be made 
with Abraham and with Moses, but they were sealed only by a per- 
sonal or passing pledge ; this had a perennial sign in heaven vouch- 
safed it. The simplicity of the language used is only equalled by its 
beauty. * When I bring a cloud over the earth, 3 and cause it to rain, 
' the bow shall be on the cloud, and I will look on it, that I may 
remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living 
creature,' and stay the rain, ' that it become no more a flood like 



BALAAM THE MAGICIAN. 257 

that which has just ended.' The sacredness of the rainbow has 
passed from this consecration into the religions and poetry of all 
nations. Homer tells us that Jupiter set it in the clouds for a sign. 
In the so-called Field of the Magi, in Persia, there may still be seen 
a picture cut in the rock, showing a winged boy sitting on a rainbow, 
and an old man before it in the attitude of prayer. The Greeks 
fabled Iris, who brought messages from God to man, as the rainbow. 
The old Scandinavians, and perhaps the Germans, fancied it a bridge 
built by God to link heaven and earth. But in Genesis the symbol 
is grandly monotheistic and spiritual. The rainbow is the pledge of 
friendship between God and man, the token of Divine grace and 
pity, the assurance of preserving care. Appearing only when the sun 
has finally broken through the clouds, it is, moreover, a special sign 
that the watery destruction which the clouds held in their bosom is 
already turned aside.' 

Balaam the Magician. 

NUMBERS xxii. 5 (Rev. Ver.) : ' And he sent messengers unto Balaam the son of 
Beor, to Pethor, which is by the River, to the land of the children of his people, 
to call him.' 

Difficulty. // is unreasonable to imagine that Balak would send 
to a Jehovah-prophet to curse Jehovah's people. 

Explanation. It is too hastily assumed that Balaam was a 
prophet of the one true God. It may even be disputed whether the 
common notion that Balaam came from the far East is a correct one. 
The Revised Version tells us that Balak sent to 'the land of the 
children of his people,' which implies a district where either 
descendants of the Moabites, or a kindred race, were settled. It 
would be a very strange thing for Balak to get a prophet of another 
religion to do his work. He would naturally seek for the best-known 
and most successful prophet of his own religion. And Balaam was 
well known, and had been so successful, that he could charge his 
own price, and was not likely to act without large rewards. 

It should be noticed that heathen religions recognised one supreme 
God, and many subordinate gods, who were the manifestation and 
the agency of the supreme. And it was quite within their concep- 
tion that a prophet of one of the subordinate gods should at times 
be directly guided by the supreme God. It is possible that we have 
something of this kind in the case of Balaam. The supreme God 
interferes, and checks Balaam in doing what he proposed to do as 
the prophet of Balak's god and his own. The supreme God even 

17 



258 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

overmasters the prophetical gift, and compels Balaam to utter bless- 
ings instead of curses. This view will help to explain the confusion 
of Balaam's mind, and the fact that he evidently says and does 
throughout what was against his inclination. He was but the 
prophet of the true God for the nonce, and under compulsion. 

It is important to observe that idolatry which puts gods in the 
place of God is far less frequently found than idolatry which makes 
gods represent, and act as agents for, God. The ignorant masses 
limit their vision to gods, but behind every idolatrous system there 
is, more or less clearly discernible, the figure of the supreme and 
spiritual God. And that it is so is shown by the form of the com- 
mandment given to the Jews. They are not thought of as in danger 
of putting away God, but of putting something between them and 
Him. ' Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. Thou shalt not 
make any likeness,' etc. 

Let us see what can be known concerning the district from 
which Balaam came, and the god he may be supposed to have 
served. 

Dean Stanley was perhaps unconsciously led to make more of 
Balaam than the brief records we have of him fairly warrant. He 
finds in him a true prophet of God, working beyond the limits of 
the Jewish people. He calls him * the Gentile prophet Balaam,' and 
says : ' His home is beyond the Euphrates, amongst the mountains 
where the vast streams of Mesopotamia have their rise. But his 
fame is known across the Assyrian desert, through the Arabian tribes, 
down to the very shores of the Dead Sea. ... In his career is seen 
that recognition of Divine inspiration outside the chosen people, 
which the narrowness of modern times has been so eager to deny, 
but which the Scriptures are always ready to acknowledge, and, by 
acknowledging, admit within the pale of the teachers of the universal 
Church the higher spirits of every age and of every nation.' 

But the only hint given us of Balaam's location is in the words of 
Num. xxii. 5, with which this paragraph is headed, and it is plain 
from it that Pethor must be looked for in some district near Moab, 
and not in the distant East, which would involve months of travel 
for Balak's messengers and for Balaam. In Num. xxiii. 7 Balaam 
says : * Balak, the King of Moab, hath brought me from Aram, out 
of the mountains of the east.' But Aram is a term covering a vast 
area, and many authorities read in Num. xxii. 5, for ' children of his 
people,' ' children of Ammon.' 

Pethor has been sought in vain on the line of the Euphrates. It 
is placed somewhere only because it has first been settled that it 



SALAAM THE MAGICIAN. 259 

must be there somewhere. Probably it would soon be identified if 
it were sought only a few days' journey from Moab in the Syrian 
district. Ay re suggests that it should be looked for in the neigh- 
bourhood of Bashan, and refers to Journal Sac. Lit., Jan., 1852, 
pp. 384-386. 

If we may look for the home of Balaam near, comparatively, to 
Moab, and find his work among the Moabites and kindred neigh- 
bouring nations, we may fairly assume that his religion was the 
religion of the races among whom he worked. We know that those 
nations recognised Jehovah as the God of Israel, and a mighty God, 
and it would be no surprise to them that the God of Israel should 
influence the magician, and so defend His own people. 

Balaam is best regarded as a famous magician, like other magicians 
of the age. Just as the woman of Endor was overmastered by the 
power of God, and Samuel was brought up apart from her incanta- 
tions, so Balaam was surprised and mastered by Divine communica- 
tions such as he had never known before, and never knew again. 
He never had been in any sense a prophet of God, and he never 
became one. He belonged to the class of magicians who are fairly 
represented by the ' rain-makers ' of savage tribes. The story of 
Balaam is given as an illustration of the Divine defence of the chosen 
people from one of the terrors of the age. 

Harper, in his recent book ' The Bible and Modern Discoveries,' 
gathers up some very interesting information relating to the heathen 
character of Balaam's magical rites : ' The first station of Balaam was 
the hill of Baal, the sun-god ; the second that of Nebo, or Mercury ; 
the third, of Peor, the Priapus of Moab, who resembled the Egyptian 
Khem. At each site seven altars were raised, one to each of the 
seven planetary gods the Cabiri of Phoenicia, whose aid was invoked 
against the God of Israel. 

* The third station evidently gave a more extensive view, and it 
could not have been far from the other two stations. Such a ridge 
we find immediately south of that of Bamoth-Baal, in the narrow 
spur that runs out to Minyeh. The very name at once suggests a 
connection with Peor, for it means luck or desire, and is intimately 
connected with that of Meni, or Venus, the proper wife of Peor ; 
while a legend of a magic well, springing from the spear of 'Aly, 
attaches to the spot. 

1 It was, therefore, a most interesting discovery to find, on the 
very edge of the cliff of Minyeh, a line of seven monuments of large 
stones, concerning which the Arabs have no traditions, only that 
they are very ancient. In each case a circle has existed, with a 

172 



260 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

central cubical stone, such as the ancient Arabs used to consecrate 
to their chief female divinity, and each had originally a little court 
or enclosure on the east, where the worshipper stood with his 
face to the west, the proper quarter of Hathor (or Venus) in Egypt, 
the home of the evening aurora seen behind the mountains of 
Judah. 

1 Cairns of huge size, stone circles, huge upright standing stones, 
are found in many places ; but in this region they abound, and their 
position points to the fact that here, where Balaam was brought by 
Balak, was the very centre of the heathen worship. Some circles 
are 100 yards in diameter. Of the upright stones, called menhirs, 
the most important group was found by the " Palestine explorers " at 
El Mareighat, then a square enclosure, an inner circle, a central 
group on the top of the knoll, and alignments on the west. The 
Arabs call them " the smeared stones," and there is little doubt that 
they were originally the objects of pagan worship once anointed 
with oil, or smeared with blood. There is no evidence to connect 
any of them with places of sepulture. The main object of their 
erection seemed always to be the construction of a flat table, ar- 
ranged with a slight tilt in the direction of its length. They are 
nearly always near streams of water always in places where good 
views are to be got. Cup-hollows are in the tables, or top-stone. 
Sometimes channels are cut from the cup-hollow, all irresistibly 
giving evidence that some sort of libation was poured on the 
stone. 

' It may seem a bold suggestion, but there appears nothing ex- 
travagant in the idea, that the altars erected by Balaam, or some of 
them, are these very altars found by the exploring party.' 

Soothsayers. 

ISAIAH ii. 6 : ' And are soothsayers like the Philistines.' 

Question. flow are soothsayers distinguished from diviners gener- 
ally ? 

Answer. It may be questioned whether the term ' soothsayer ' 
is to be regarded as referring to any exclusive magical methods. The 
word Gazerim, if it is connected with the word Kazir of the Assyrian 
inscriptions, should mean men who collected the laws on astrological 
phenomena and portents, and pronounced upon them. Some trans- 
late Gazerim as ' deciders,' and think the term refers to those who 
cast nativities, and by various modes of computing foretell the fortunes 
of men. 



SOOTHS A YERS. 261 

Delitzsch renders the word ' soothsayers ' ' cloud-makers,' which 
suggests the common name of sorcerers in savage tribes, ' rain-makers.' 
Cheyne renders, ' diviners of the clouds,' and reminds us that the 
clouds, both of the day and night, were studied by the Chaldaean 
diviners. 

From i Sam. vi. 2, we learn that the Philistines had a recognised 
order of diviners, and a famous oracle at Ekron. 

Dean Plumptre has a suggestive note on this verse : * " Sooth- 
sayers," literally, cloud-diviners. The word points to the claim of 
being " storm-raisers," which has been in all ages one of the boasts 
of sorcerers. The conquests of Uzziah (2 Chron. xxvi. 6) had 
brought Judah into contact with the Philistines, and the oracles at 
Ekron and elsewhere (2 Kings i. 2) attracted the people of Judah. 
There was, as it were, a mania for divination, and the diviners of 
Philistia found imitators among the people of Jehovah.' 

Woolwrych gives the derivation of soothsayer as in first English 
soth-bora (truth-bearer). He says, soth-cwithe is an oracle ; soth-saga^ 
history. Sooth is common in Chaucer for truth, and opposed to 
false. As used in Scripture it denotes a class of men who decided 
nativities, observed clouds, and divined by means of cups or rods. 
The word suggests at least the pretension of telling the truth (sooth) 
to a man ; the truth, that is, about his future. 



Jehovah's People casting ' Lots/ 

JOSHUA xviii. 6 : ' And ye shall describe the land into seven portions, and bring 
the description hither to me : and I will cast lots for you here before the Lord our 
God.' 

Difficulty. // is not easy to see a sufficient reason for apportioning 
by lot) when the inspiration of God might have led Joshua to make 
satisfactory divisions. 

Explanation. The plan was evidently adopted in order to 
secure the aid of the people in the apportionment, and to convince 
them that everything was perfectly fair and straightforward. The 
disposal was, even by the system of lot, left absolutely in the hand 
of God ; but if every man felt that he had his chance, all heart- 
burnings and jealousies were prevented. 

If the apportionments had been made through Joshua, the people 
who were discontented with their portions would be sure to say that 
they were made by Joshua, and that he had shown favouritism. 

It is true that deciding by lot is common under heathen and pagan 
systems ; but in these cases everything is left to chance. In the case 



262 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

of the Israelites the will of the living Lord was simply made known 
through this particular agency, instead of by the words of Joshua. 
The lot was, for Israel, an acted expression of the will of Jehovah. 

Then it should be noticed that the people did not cast lots for 
themselves Joshua cast lots for them ; and he did it in a solemn 
manner before the symbols of the Divine presence. When we notice 
similarities between heathen customs and Jewish, we should be very 
keen to observe the differences, because these may effectively remove 
the evils of the custom. 

The custom of deciding doubtful questions by lot is one of great 
extent and high antiquity, recommending itself as a sort of appeal to 
the Almighty, secure from all influence of passion or bias, and is a 
sort of divination employed even by the gods themselves. It may 
fairly be used still when a question cannot be decided absolutely on 
its merits, but feeling is sure to bias the judgment. 

The Speaker's Commentary makes suggestions as to the ways in 
which the lot was taken by Joshua. On such a matter there can be 
no more than conjecture. ' Perhaps two urns were employed, one 
containing a description of the several districts to be allotted, the 
other the names of the tribes ; and the portion of each tribe would 
then be determined by a simultaneous drawing from the two urns. 
Or a drawing might be made by some appointed person, or by a 
delegate of each tribe from one urn containing the descriptions of 
the ten inheritances.' In whatever way it was taken, the lot would 
be appealed to as finally deciding the matter, and foreclosing jealousies 
and disputes. 

The Pillar of Cloud and Fire. 

EXODUS xiii. 21 : * And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, 
to lead them the way ; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light ; that they 
might go by day and by night.' 

Question. Is it possible to suggest, with any confidence^ the form 
and appearance of this ' pillar ' ? 

Answer. A column of smoke rising from a desert fire may 
properly be spoken of as a pillar. Such a pillar of smoke during the 
day would look dark like a cloud, but at night it would be bright, 
lighted up by the glow of the fire in it. We are to imagine, then, 
such a pillar of smoke rising perpendicularly from some point in the 
camp, probably Moses' tent. It manifestly differed from any bank 
of cloud in the sky, as clouds lie parallel with the earth, and this 
pillar stood between earth and sky. The wonder of it lay in its being 
smoke from no fire, and at night a bright appearance, though there 



THE PILLAR OF CLOUD AND FIRE. 263 

was no blaze to send its glow into it. When the tabernacle was 
erected, and the Shekinah glory rested on the mercy-seat, the pillar 
of cloud and fire gained its full associations, which, previously, could 
only have been suggested and anticipated. 

Eastern caravans and armies are still, in many cases, guided by 
signals of fire and smoke, which take their place at the front of the 
march. Some illustrations have been collected. Alexander the 
Great had a huge cresset set up on a tall pole over his tent as a 
signal for departure, seen far off by all, by its light in darkness and 
its smoke by day. Seetzen quotes from an old Arab MS. the fact 
that the caliphs used fire to send news swiftly the brightness serving 
this end by night and the smoke by day. The vast pilgrim caravans 
to Mecca guide themselves in a similar way. An Egyptian general, 
in an ancient inscription, is compared to a flame streaming in advance 
of an army, and this is repeated in an old papyrus. 

It has been said of the Hebrews : ' Their march was guided by 
Jehovah Himself, who, from the commencement of their journey to 
their entrance into Canaan, displayed His banner, the Shekinah, in 
their van.' 

Dr. J. Macgregor says : ' In that region a military chief, by way of 
banner, may have a column of smoke, rising from a fire which is 
carried on a brazier for the purpose. In the pure atmosphere it can 
be seen from a great distance, so that by means of it he may lead a 
population spreading wide over the whole region. The same fire, 
maintained through the night, will still have in it the authoritative 
guidance, because the flame shows through the darkness, as smoke 
shows through the clear sky. An expression of Quintus Curtius, in 
his " Life of Alexander the Great," has been noted on account of its 
resemblance to the description in the above passage " Observabatur 
ignis noctu fumus interdiu " " They kept their eye upon the fire by 
night, and upon the smoke by day." ' 

The Speaker's Commentary adds a point or two of interest : ' The 
Lord Himself did for the Israelites by preternatural means that 
which armies were obliged to do for themselves by natural agents. 
Passages are quoted from classical writers which show that the 
Persians and Greeks used fire and smoke as signals in their marches. 
Vegetius and Frontinus mention it as a general custom, especially 
among the Arabians. The success of some important expeditions, 
as of Thrasybulus and Timoleon, was attributed by popular supersti- 
tion to a Divine light guiding the leaders. To these well-known 
instances may be added two of peculiar interest, as bearing witness 
to a custom known to all the contemporaries of Moses. In an in- 



264 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

scription of the Ancient Empire an Egyptian general is compared to 
" a flame streaming in advance of an army." Thus, too, in a well- 
known papyrus, the commander of an expedition is called " a flame 
in the darkness at the head of his soldiers." By this sign, then, 
of the pillar of cloud, the Lord showed Himself as their leader and 
general.' 

Canon Rawlinson says : ' From Succoth certainly, probably from 
Rameses, God moved in front of the host in the form of a pillar, 
which had the appearance of smoke by day and of fire by night. The 
Israelites marched, it is implied, some part of each day and some 
part of each night, which would be in accordance with modern prac- 
tice, and is an arrangement introduced to get the march accomplished 
before the sun attains its full power. The pillar was at once a signal 
and a guide.' 

Fighting Stars. 

JUDGES v. 20 : ' They fought from heaven ; the stars in their courses fought against 
Sisera.' 

Difficulty. Accepting this as a poetical figure, there must, never- 
theless, have been some astrological notions on which it was based. 

Explanation. It will be well to inquire first what historical 
facts are thus poetically represented. It is not possible to improve 
on Dean Stanley's vigorous and suggestive description of the defeat 
of Sisera. The final encampment of the Canaanitish army 'was 
beside the numerous rivulets which, descending from the hills of 
Megiddo into the Kishon, as it flows in a broader stream through the 
cornfields below, may well have been known as " the waters of 
Megiddo." It was at this critical moment that (as we learn directly 
from Josephus, and indirectly from the song of Deborah) a tremendous 
storm of sleet and hail gathered from the East and burst over the 
plain, driving full in the faces of the advancing Canaanites. " The 
stars in their courses fought against Sisera." As in like case in the 
battle of Cressy, the slingers and the archers were disabled by the 
rain, the swordsmen were crippled by the biting cold. The Israelites, 
on the other hand, having the storm on their rear, were less troubled 
by it, and derived confidence from the consciousness of this Provi- 
dential aid. The confusion became great. The "rain descended," 
the four rivulets of Megiddo were swelled into powerful streams, the 
torrent of the Kishon rose into a flood, the plain became a morass. 
The chariots and the horses, which should have gained the day for 
the Canaanites, turned against them. They became entangled in the 
swamp ; the torrent of Kishon the torrent famous through former 



FIGHTING STARS. 265 

ages swept them away in its furious eddies ; and in that wild con- 
fusion " the strength " of the Canaanites " was trodden down," and 
" the horsehoofs stamped and struggled by the means of the plungings 
and plungings of the mighty chiefs " in the quaking morass and the 
rising streams. Far and wide the vast army fled, far through the 
eastern branch of the plain by Endor. There, between Tabor and 
the Little Hermon, a carnage took place, long remembered, in which 
the corpses lay fattening the ground ' (Psa. Ixxxiii. 10). 

As a poetical figure of this storm, the above passage receives illus- 
tration from a sentence of ^Eschylus, who represents ' water and fire 
in ruin reconciled,' as fighting against the Grecian fleet. It is helpful 
to form an estimate of the poetical characteristics of Deborah's Song, 
of which this striking sentence forms a part. ' Her strains are bold, 
varied, and sublime ; she is everywhere full of abrupt and impas- 
sioned appeals and personifications ; she bursts away from earth to 
heaven, and again returns to human things. She touches now upon 
the present, now dwells upon the past, and closes at length with the 
grand promise and result of all prophecy, and of all the dealings of 
God's providence, that the wicked shall be overthrown, while the 
righteous shall ever triumph in Jehovah's name.' To such an exalted 
poetical genius such a figure as that of stars fighting would not appear 
extravagant. 

But the figure rests on curious notions of the relations of the stars 
to clouds and storms. Our notions of the immense distances of the 
stars had not then been reached Stars and clouds, being both in the 
visible heavens, were thought to be connected, and it was easy to 
imagine the movements of the stars being the cause of the storms. 

But there must have been a very general idea that the stars were 
directly concerned with the events of earth. The stars had come to 
be thought of as in some mysterious way the rulers of men's lives. 
This common astrological notion may be thought of as giving shape 
to the expressions of the poet, but we need not go so far as from a 
poetical expression to infer the religious belief of the poetess. 

If an astrological basis for the figure can be recognised, importance 
will be felt to attach to a note given by Stanley^ who says : c I have 
taken verse 20 as it is usually rendered, as if "against." But the 
ambiguity of the original " with," combined with the repetition of the 
word " fought " from the previous verses, suggests the possibility that 
what is meant is the contrast between the fighting of the stars for 
Sisera, and the flood of the Kishon against him.' Following this 
hint, we get quite a new explanation. Deborah may be satirizing the 
dependence of Sisera on his omens and oracles. Generals and kings 



266 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

consulted the astrologers and the star-gazers before entering on their 
expeditions ; and, no doubt, they had encouraged Sisera. Neverthe- 
less, God fought for Israel, and conquered the army for which, 
according to the notions of the times, even the stars were fighting. 

Bertheau, Bachmann, and others, take the figure as simply expres- 
sive of Divine assistance. * Filled with the thoughts of God's 
wonderful aid, and venturing under the impulses of a bold enthusiasm 
to give definite representation of His distinctly recognised yet mys- 
terious work on earth and in the midst of men, it is to her as if the 
heavens, the eternal dwelling-place of the holy God, had bowed 
themselves down to earth, or to use the language of the text as if 
the stars, forsaking their usual orbits, had fought against Sisera. See 
the language of Psalm xviii.' 

Lange says what we cannot fully follow : ' Consistently with 
Israelitish conceptions, the help of the stars can only be understood 
of their shining.' 

Ewald is somewhat vague : ' Then ensued a concussion whose 
violence and decisive force could not be better depicted than by the 
figure in the song. For it might indeed well appear as if only 
supernal, heavenly powers could thus put to flight one who possessed 
the prestige of victory, and led such vast forces to battle.' 

An ingenious explanation has been given by an English clergyman. 
The season was probably that of the autumn storms, which occur 
early in November. At this time meteoric showers are commonest, 
and are remarkably fine in effect seen in the evening light at a season 
when the air is specially clear and bright. The scene presented by 
the falling fiery stars, as the defeated host fled away by night, is one 
very striking to the fancy, and it would form a fine subject for an 
artist's pencil. (From C. R. Conder.) 

Making Arrows Bright. 

EZKKIEL xxi. 21 :' For the king of Babylon stood at the parting of the way, at 
the head of the two ways, to use divination : he made his arrows bright, he con- 
sulted with images, he looked in the liver.' Rev. Ver. : ' He shook the arrows to 
and fro.' 

Question. Can the methods of ancient divination be known ? 

Answer. No real importance attaches to this subject ; it can 
have only an archaeological interest. A student of human nature 
may be anxious to know the various constitutions that are easily 
deluded, and the variety of forms that delusion may take ; but no 
Scriptural importance attaches to such inquiries. 

The above passage has been variously translated or paraphrased. 



MAKING ARROWS BRIGHT. 267 

Geikie's translation is suggestive : ' For the King of Babylon stands 
at the parting of the roads, at the head of the two ways, to use 
divination as to which he should take. He shakes in a quiver the 
two arrows, marked Ammon and Jerusalem, to see which will be 
drawn out first by one blindfolded ; he consults his idols ; he looks 
at the liver of the sacrifices. In his right hand the fortunate one 
is already the arrow marked " Jerusalem," which has been drawn by 
him from the quiver.' Geikie says of this shaking the arrows : ' It 
was a common form of divination among the heathen Arabs.' 

The Speaker's Commentary tells us that ' Pocock describes it at 
length. Before undertaking a journey, marrying a wife, and entering 
upon any important business, it was usual to place in some vessel 
three arrows, on one of which was written, " My God orders me ;" 
on the other, " My God forbids me ;" on the third was no inscrip- 
tion. These three arrows were shaken together until one came out ; 
if it was the first, the thing was to be done ; if the second, it was to 
be avoided ; if the third, the arrows were again shaken together, 
until one of the arrows bearing a decided answer should come forth. 
The method of obtaining an omen by shaking lots together in a 
helmet was familiar to the ancient Greeks.' 

Divination by shooting arrows was very common. Many were 
shot, and the march of an army was prosecuted in the direction in 
which the greatest number fell. Or the arrows were marked with 
the names of devoted cities, and that was first attacked the name of 
which was first drawn. Divination by rods was practised in this 
manner : The staff was placed upright, and then allowed to fall, and 
the decision of the course of an army, etc., was according as the staff 
fell. 

The different systems are detailed in Cicero's treatise, ' De Divina- 
tione.' Generally they were divided into the following branches : 
aeromancy, or divination by the air ; astrology ', by the heavens ; 
augury, by birds, etc. ; arithnomancy, by numbers ; capnomancy, by 
the smoke of sacrifices ; cheiromancy r , by the lines on the palms of 
the hands ; geomancy, by observing cracks or clefts in the earth ; 
haru spicy ^ by inspecting the bowels of animals ; horoscopy^ marking 
the position of the heavens when a person is born ; hydromancy, by 
water ; and pyromancy ', by fire. 



268 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 
Consul ters of Familiar Spirits. 

DEUTERONOMY xviii. n : ' Or a consulter with a familiar spirit.' R.V. 

Difficulty. Such a description, made without qualification :, suggests 
the belief of the age that there were 'familiar spirits? 

Explanation. That undoubtedly was the common belief of 
ancient times. Such persons as we now call * mediums ' would, in 
former ages, be regarded as being possessed and used by some spirit. 
Indeed, the spiritualist notions of modern times are but a reproduc- 
tion, with marked characteristics for this age, of the old-world 
notions. 

' Magic, as a science, was supposed to depend on the influence of 
evil spirits, or the spirits of the dead. In early times all who engaged 
in the study of natural phenomena were accounted magicians, the 
term being thus used in a good sense, nearly equivalent to the word 
philosophers. Magic has been divided into natural, which consists 
in the application of natural causes to produce wonderful phenomena ; 
planetary, which assigns either to the planets, or to spirits residing in 
them, an influence over the affairs of men ; and diabolical, which 
invokes the aid of demons to accomplish supernatural effects. 

Our translation ' familiar spirit ' embodies the superstition of the 
Middle Ages, that demons attended on favoured persons. Some- 
times the name was applied to the person considered as instructed 
and inspired by the demon. 

Possibly persons are meant who, by means of ventriloquism, pre- 
tended to converse with their ' familiars,' and to receive audible 
responses from them. ' Even the wise Socrates laid claim to the aid 
of some such spirit.' 

Dr. Ginsburg says : ' This phrase represents the single word oboth 
in the original, and the translators of our Authorised Version, by 
adopting it, implied that those who practised this craft were supposed 
to be attended by an invisible spirit who was subject to their call to 
supply them with supernatural information. According to the 
authorities during the second Temple, it denotes one who has a 
spirit speaking from under his armholes, or chest, with a hollow 
voice, as if it came out of a bottle, which is the meaning of ob in 
Job xxxii. 1 9. They identified it with the spirit of Python, by which 
the ancient Chaldee Version renders it.' 

When we remember the hold which popular superstitions have even 
in these modern scientific days, and the trick of personifying every- 
thing which is a marked characteristic of imaginative and unscientific 



O UTMOST PARTS OF HE A YEN. 269 

times, we cannot wonder that the claim of the magicians to work by 
the agencies of ' familiar spirits ' was so generally recognised. We 
need not admit that there was any truth in their claims ; as scientific 
explanations can be given of all their characteristic features and 
devices. We may regard them as having been in part deceivers, and 
in part self-deceived. 

Outmost Parts of Heaven. 

DEUTERONOMY xxx. 4 : ' If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts 
of heaven.' 

Question. On what notion of the shape of the earth is this figure 
based 1 

Answer. The Revised Version renders this sentence thus : ' If 
any of thine outcasts be in the uttermost parts of heaven.' Nehemiah, 
recalling this sentence in his prayer, gives it thus : ' Though there 
were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven ' (Neh. 
i. 9). And our Lord used a similar expression (Matt xxiv. 31), 
* From the one end of heaven to the other.' 

The words are to be regarded as poetical, but poetical figures 
depend on received notions and sentiments ; they would not be 
effective for their age if they did not embody the commonly-received 
ideas of their age. Until men's mere observations could be scientifi- 
cally corrected, there can be no doubt that they looked upon the 
earth as a level plane, and the blue sky as a solid arch, the horizon 
being the place where this arch touched the earth. That is the first 
notion of a child still, and that must have been the notion of the 
child-ages. From this point of view, the ' outmost parts of heaven ' 
would be the parts nearest to the horizon edge. 

It has further to be noticed that, in later times, Palestine was con- 
ceived to be the centre of the earth, and centre of the sky-dome. 
The * outmost parts ' were, therefore, the outer rim of the circle of 
which Palestine was the centre, so it expressed the idea of ' uttermost 
distance.' 

* The word rdkia in Genesis, which we translate " firmament," 
properly signifies solid surface, and the Jews imagine the blue of the 
sky to be solid.' ' The earth was, to the Jews, as to the whole ancient 
world, the centre of the universe, and all the stars revolved around 
that immovable centre.' 

Dr. Stapfer gives a careful view of the ideas entertained in the 
time of Christ, but it does not seem possible to recover, with pre- 
cision, the views of the Hebrews of the time of Moses. The later 



270 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

views, however, suggest the earlier. He says : ' The Jew looks upon 
the earth as a circular plane. God is seated above this plane, the 
circumference of which had been originally traced by Him on the 
abyss. The four cardinal points are called the ends of the heavens. 
Jerusalem is in the centre of this round flat disc which forms the 
earth. The surface of this plane is divided into two parts the land 
of Israel, and that which is not the land of Israel. . . . The land of 
Israel was in the centre of the disc, surrounded on all sides by the 
world. At the edge of the disc was the sea, the great sea upon 
which no one had yet ventured far. It encircled the round plane, 
and as it washed the shores of pagan countries, these were sometimes 
called " the region of the sea." Rabbi Solomon said : " All the 
outer region is called the region of the sea, with the exception of 
Babylon " ; and Rabbi Nissim says : " It is imperative to call all 
that is outside the land of Israel the region of the sea." It is impos- 
sible to say what idea the Jew had of the size of the disc of the earth 
It is evident that the geography of the Jews was like that of other 
ancient nations. It had no surer basis than the direct testimony of 
the senses and childish observation.' 

Ueberweg reminds us that { Philosophy as science could originate 
neither among the peoples of the north, who were eminent for 
strength and courage, but devoid of culture ; nor among the 
Orientals, who, though susceptible of the elements of higher culture, 
were content simply to retain them in a spirit of passive resignation ; 
but only among the Hellenes (Greek races), who harmoniously com- 
bined the characteristics of both. The Romans, devoted to practical, 
and particularly to political, problems, scarcely occupied themselves 
with philosophy except in the appropriation of Hellenic ideas, and 
scarcely attained to any productive originality of their own. The 
so-called philosophy of the Orientals lacks in the tendency to strict 
demonstration, and hence in scientific character. Whatever philo- 
sophical elements are discoverable among them are so blended 
with religious notions, that a separate exposition is scarcely 
possible.' 

As an illustration of the way in which the book of an age reflects 
the current notions of the age in which it was written, reference may 
be made to the Book of Enoch. ' The writer is evidently under the 
influence of Greek mythology. Moreover, he mixes up imagination 
and reality, and so completely confounds his individual fancies with 
the geographical notions of his contemporaries, that it is impossible 
to separate them. He is fascinated with the number seven, anc 
speaks of seven great rivers which water the earth. The earth itsell 



COMMUNICA TIONS THROUGH DREAMS. 2 7 1 

is composed of seven islands that have arisen out of the heart of the 
sea. He thinks the sun sets each evening in an ocean of fire in 
which are the dead.' 

The movements of the sun and moon, and also of the stars, must 
have been a constant source of wonder in early times. How the 
sun could get from one side of the sky-dome to the other during 
each night must have sorely puzzled them. They could only 
imagine and invent extraordinary solutions of what was a hopeless 
problem until a proper conception of the solar system had been 
arrived at. 

Communications through Dreams. 

I KINGS iii. 5: 'In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by 
night.' 

Difficulty. The mediums of Divine communication with men vary 
greatly, and there seems to be no rule guiding the selection of a medium 
in any particular case. 

Explanation. Certainly the principles on which God has 
selected His methods of communication with men have never been 
discovered. There appears, however, to be some good ground for 
the suggestion that dreams were the agencies preferred in the case of 
individuals outside the Jewish covenant, or of individuals removed 
from the ordinary Jewish relationships. We should recognise estab- 
lished modes of communication, through Urim and through prophets, 
and also special modes of communication, which were by vision or 
dream, the line of demarcation between these two modes being very 
difficult to trace. Possibly we may understand vision as belonging 
to the day-time, and dream as belonging to the night-time. In either 
case the man sees and hears what has no corresponding material 
form and substance, so he receives it as a Divine, a spiritual, com- 
munication. 

A study of this difficulty will be aided by an examination of the 
cases of dream-revelation recorded in the Sacred Word : Abime- 
lech, Gen. xx. 3-7 ; Laban, Gen. xxxi. 24 ; Pharaoh's butler and 
baker, Gen. xl. 5-19 ; Pharaoh, Gen. xli. 1-7 ; Midianite, Judg. 
vii. 13-15; Nebuchadnezzar, Dan. ii. i, 31; iv. 5. 8; Wise Men, 
Matt. ii. n, 12 ; Pilate's wife, Matt, xxvii. 19. All these are cases 
outside the Hebrew covenant. 

Cases which must be more or less clearly regarded as within the 
Jewish covenant are the following: Jacob, Gen. xxviii. 12; Gen. 
xxxi. 10 his son Joseph, Gen. xxxvii. 5-9 ; Solomon, i Kings 



272 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

iii. 5-15 ; Daniel, ch. vii. ; Joseph, the reputed father of our Lord, 
Matt. i. 20, 2i ; ii. 13, 19, 20. 

If we regard dreams as being the ordinary operation of the mind 
severed from the control of the will, we can readily understand how 
God can take the place of the sleeping will, and guide the selec- 
tions and adjustments of the things brought up by the mind so as 
to convey His will to men. That God has done this leaves it open 
to say that it may please Him to do this still. But we should ever 
keep in mind that this is the time of ' the ministration of the Spirit,' 
and as God is now pleased to guide our thoughts, He does not need 
to fashion our dreams. 

' In an early and simple age of the world dreams were held in 
high account, as giving clear and trustworthy intimations of coming 
events, it being thought, as Homer says, that they were from Jupiter. 
Hence, in Scripture great events are made to turn on dreams, and 
their interpretation. Before superstition had begun to abuse the best 
things and debase the purest, dreams may have been no unsuitable 
medium of communication between God and man.' 

It is probably true, as has been said, that ' dreams, as means of 
revelation, are almost always referred to the periods in which God's 
servants had but the earliest and most imperfect knowledge of Him.' 
The selection of this mode of communication in the case of Solomon 
suggests that he was officially ', rather than personally, godly. 



Heavenly Bodies as Figures of Earthly Calamities. 

ISAIAH xiii. 10 : ' For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall 
not give their light ; the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon 
shall not cause her light to shine.' 

Question. Will astrological notions explain these figures ? 

Answer. They depend rather on popular superstitions and 
alarms than on astrological ideas. Eclipses of sun and moon, con- 
junctions of stars, and what are known as * falling stars,' created the 
greatest excitement and fear, as indeed they do still in heathen lands. 
It became, therefore, an easy thing to use these heavenly signs as 
indicative of commotions and troubles among the nations. 

Bishop Wordsworth says : ' Such descriptions as these betoken a 
state of national confusion and panic like that which would be 
caused by the darkening of the heavenly bodies, to the contempla- 
tion of which the Babylonians were addicted for purposes of divina- 
tion.' 

Henderson, writing on this verse, says : c A fine specimen of the 



HEA VENL Y BODIES. 273 

figurative manner in which the Hebrew prophets depict the horrors 
of national calamity. The metaphors of light and darkness to express 
prosperity and adversity are quite common ; but when the effect is 
to be heightened, the writer represents the sources of light as being 
themselves affected, and their splendour as either increased or com- 
pletely obscured.' 

The Chaldseans early marked out the heavens into groups or con- 
stellations. The word translated ' constellations ' in this text is, 
literally, * the Orions,' that is, Orion and similar constellations, or 
remarkable groups of fixed stars. In the Persian mythology Orion is 
Nimrod, the founder of Babel, who was translated from earth to the 
position which he now occupies in the starry heavens. A similar 
belief appears to have been popular among other ancient nations. 
The name by which the Arabs designate this constellation is ' the 
Giant ' (Gen. x. 8, 9). They also give him Sirius as a dog for his 
companion, which furnishes another point of coincidence with the 
Scripture account of Nimrod's favourite pursuit. 

Clericus distinctly connects this verse with Babylonian astrology 
and even astrolatry (star-idolatry) ; he translates thus : ' The stars of 
heaven which are even their confidence.' Malvenda also supposes a 
special allusion to the astrological belief and practice of the Baby- 
lonians. Vitringa and J. D. Michaelis understand the image here 
presented to be that of a terrific storm, veiling the heavens and con- 
cealing its luminaries. But this is too prosaic. 

On the similar figures as used by our Lord (Matt. xxiv. 29), Dean 
Plumptre remarks : * The words reproduce the imagery in which 
Isaiah had described the day of the Lord's judgment upon Babylon, 
and may naturally receive the same symbolic interpretation. Our 
Lord speaks here in language as essentially apocalyptic as that of the 
Revelation of St. John (Rev. viii. 12), and it lies in the very nature 
of such language that it precludes a literal interpretation. Even the 
common speech of men describes a time of tribulation as one in 
which the " skies are dark " and " the sun of a nation's glory sets in 
gloom " ; and the language of Isaiah, of St. John, and of our Lord, is 
but the expansion of that familiar parable. Sun, moon, and stars 
may represent, as many have thought, kingly power, and the spiritual 
influence of which the Church of Christ is the embodiment, and the 
illuminating power of those who " shine as lights in the world " 
(Phil. ii. 15); but even this interpretation is, it may be, over-precise 
and technical, and the words are better left in their dim and terrible 
vagueness.' 

There is a largeness, unrestrainedness, almost unnaturalness (at 

18 



274 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

least, from our points of view) in Eastern metaphor, which makes the 
figurative element in Scripture very difficult for us to deal with. 
JDr. E. Stapfer well illustrates the extravagant notions of Messianic 
times which prevailed in the ancient Jewish nation, and intense and 
exaggerated figures and metaphors precisely suited the prevailing 
moods. * The people looked forward with dread to the coming of 
the Messianic era. They were afraid of seeing the wars of Gog and 
Magog which the scribes predicted as its precursor. All looked for 
fearful calamities. Rabbi Eliezer ben Abena said : " When ye shall 
see nations rising up one against the other, then look for Messiah to 
follow ; and ye may know that this is true by this token that the 
same thing was done in the days of Abraham, for then the nations 
rose up against one another, and there came a Redeemer for Abraham. 
In the week of years in which the Son of David shall come there will 
be in the first year abundance of rain upon one city and drought 
upon another. In the second year the arrows of famine will go 
abroad. In the third there will be a great famine, and men, women, 
and children will die, as well as the saints and the rich ; and there 
will be a judgment of forgetfulness upon those that study the law. 
In the fourth year there will be abundance for some and barrenness 
for others. In the fifth year a great abundance ; and they shall eat, 
drink, and rejoice, and the law shall be again held in honour among 
those who teach it. In the sixth year voices will be heard. In the 
seventh year wars will break out, and at the end of the seventh year 
the Son of David will appear." The Jewish poet excels in describing 
the windy storm and tempest ; he scarcely glances at Nature under 
any other aspect. The contemporaries of Christ portrayed in eloquent 
language the coming in of the Messianic era, but always under one 
aspect, speaking of the elements being dissolved, the stars falling, the 
earth being burnt up.' As a specimen of the writing of these times 
the Book of Enoch may be mentioned. ' The style of this work is 
extravagant to a degree. All the images are exaggerated. Every- 
thing is on a grander scale than nature.' 

Seeking the Seer. 

I SAMUEL ix. 6 : ' Behold now, there is in this city a man of God, and he is a 
man that is held in honour ; and all that he saith cometh surely to pass : now let 
us go thither ; peradventure he can tell us concerning our journey whereon we go.' 

Difficulty. // is strange -thus to find Samuel only known as an 
Oracle. 

Explanation. This difficulty is increased when we realize that 
the home of Saul was at no great distance from the usual abode of 



SEEKING THE $EER. 275 

Samuel. Possibly we have here onl^an illustration of the familiar 
proverb, 'A prophet is not without honour, save in his own 
country.' Samuel may have been /ell known throughout the land, 
and yet very imperfectly known ^ estimated by his actual neigh- 
bours. 

But explanation may be sugared along another line. The servant 
does not give a full account ^Samuel to his young master, he only 
deals with the precise matt/ that is before him. The minds of the 
two men were concerned / out the lost asses, and they were not, 
then, specially interested/ 1 Samuel the Judge or Samuel the Re- 
former ; they wanted a AJ a man gifted with what we call * second 
sight,' who should dire/ their way. To this one point the servant 
directs the attention /the master. 

Two other points/ 66 ^ consideration. Young Saul was evidently 
a big clumsy, yep an( ^ some > slow-minded young man, not in the 
least likely to tro/^ e himself about the work and influence of Samuel. 
And moreover/^ 16 even ts which had brought Samuel into public 
prominence h^ 'occurred years before, and had passed almost out of 
memory. 'F young generation only vaguely knew about the 
prophet-jud/ There had been no miraculous, or even specially 
remarkable ea t ures aDou t his teaching or his magistracy for many 
years. F ^ a d become one of the regular institutions of the 

country. / 

Kirkfrick supports these views. ' It seems strange that Saul 

appare/v knows nothing about Samuel. But the days of Samuel's 
greate ac ti y ity were long past, and he had for some time been living 
in C c/P ara ti ve retirement, while " up to this point Saul had been only 
the/y an( ^ re ti rm g youth of the family, employed in the common 
W( 7of the farm," and knowing little of the political or religious 
Cements of the time.' 

/The gifts of the 'seer' may be, or may not be, what we understand 
N miraculous. There is abundant evidence that some men and 
women are entrusted in a natural way with the gift of ' second sight.' 
And this may have been, in the case of Samuel, the agency which 
God was pleased to use in a direct way as the medium by which He 
communicated His will. The language of the servant certainly 
suggests that he only regarded Samuel as a seer among seers, but a 
seer who had an established and honourable reputation. There are 
mysteries of mind ; special senses given to some men, and peculiar 
powers, and sensitivenesses, characteristic of some men, which must 
be much better understood before we can rightly judge between the 
miraculous and the non-miraculous in any given case. The opinion 

18 2 



276 HANDBOOK Of BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

of the servant is only interesting as an indication of public sentiment. 
What he thought of Samuel toes not decide for us what Samuel 
was. 

Geikie has an interesting passage O n the ideas of the age concern- 
ing Oracles and Prophets. 'The^rophet is essentially an appear- 
ance peculiar to early ages, and to ti* s i mp i e state of society before 
the fulness of revelation has yet bee, ma d e known. The ancient 
world at large was marked by its eager rfforts to penetrate the secrets 
of the higher powers which control hum^ destiny. Nothing impor- 
tant was undertaken either in public or pi 7ate Hf e without inquiring 
the will of the gods through seers, divers, augurs, oracles, or 
prophets, who claimed ability to satisfy this^ rav j n g g ut there was 
a signal difference between the representative o f t jj e heathen gods 
and those of Jehovah. To the former the ind. at i ons o f tne Divine 
will were read in the phenomena and occurrence. o f ou t e r nature and 
of the animal world ; in the whispering of the oak eaves o f Dodona 
in the flight of birds, in the motions of the entraiL o f a sacr ifi ce j n 
the sounds of birds or beasts, or in their unexpec^ a pp ear ances 
But in the true religion this noble instinct was met or, by communi- 
cations made from the unseen God through the spin o f man jj^ s 
image on earth.' 

W. J. Deane, after referring to Saul's proposal, on t, fa[ r d fay v 
that they should return home, says : ' The servant, ho iyer con _ 
sidered that there was still one chance left of recovers tne j og f. 
animals. They might consult a wise man, and ask his adv* j ust; 
before them rose the hill of Ramathaim-Zophim, and the ^ nc j ari t 
opportunely remembered that in that city dwelt a man of Goc^^y 
honoured and respected, and one whose statements always r> ve( j 
true ; he suggested that they should have recourse to him L~ ore 
giving up the quest as hopeless. He does not speak as if he 1( j 
known Samuel by name, and Saul seems to be equally ignor* 
One calls him the " man of God," and the other the " seer." 1* 
fact, if fact it were, would be most perplexing. Gibeah was not vei 
far distant from Ramah ; and that Samuel, the eminent prophet, anc 
the chief ruler of Israel, should have been unknown by name to Saul 
and his domestic is quite incredible. That they had never met 
before is plain from what happened subsequently, when Saul speaks 
to him as to a stranger, and inquires the way to the seer's house 
(i Sam. ix. 18) ; but how are we to account for this apparent ignor- 
ance? Probably the personal name was almost forgotten in the 
office, and it was by this title he was generally known, the people 
near Ramah calling him " the seer," the Benjamites referring to him 



SEEKING THE SEER. 277 

as the " man of God." Another alternative is, that the dialogue 
between Saul and his servant is imaginary, founded upon the facts 
which came afterwards into prominence, and not to be taken as 
literally occurring. ... It is as a "wise man" that the attendant 
wishes to consult Samuel as one who, by his more than human 
knowledge, might direct them in their perplexity. ... It would 
appear that it was no new thing to resort to seers for consultation in 
private affairs, and that it was customary to offer a present on such 
occasions. Whether the practice led to chicanery, and whether there 
was at this time a class of pretended soothsayers, cannot be decided. 
Saul could hardly have placed Samuel in any such category, though 
he is willing to appeal to him on a business which any mere sooth- 
sayer might have decided.' 



SUB-SECTION II. 

DIFFICULTIES RELATED TO MEDICAL SCIENCE. 



An Incurable Disease. 

2 CHRONICLES xxi. 18 : ' And after all this the Lord smote him in his bowels 
with an incurable disease.' 

Question. Can this disease be identified and described? Was it 
absolutely incurable, or only incurable by the medical skill and science of 
that day ? 

Answer. The British Medical Journal had an article on Ancient 
Medical Art, from which a few extracts are taken, in order to prepare 
for a consideration of these questions. * Medical art was, among the 
Hebrews, practised from early times by a special profession the 
Ropheim and is already mentioned in the ancient Book of the 
Covenant, which embodies the oldest fundamental laws (Exod. xxi. 19). 
They may possibly have derived much of their knowledge from the 
Egyptians, famous for their discovery of remedies from remote ages, 
ind for their medical skill generally ; and during their sojourn in 
Sgypt they had Hebrew midwives (Exod. i. 15-20). Their art seems, 
or the most part, to have been limited to surgery and the cure of 
external injuries (comp. Isa. i. 6; Ezek. xxx. 21 ; 2 Kings viii. 29; 
x. 15) ; but the physicians, many of whom belonged to the prophetic 
>rder (2 Kings iv. 33-36; v. 10; viii. 7 ; xx. 7; Isa. xxxviii. 21), 
;njoyed great respect and confidence, and were very generally 



278 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

employed, especially after the time of the exile, when even the smaller 
towns had their medical practitioners (Jer. viii. 22; Sirach xxxviii. 
1-15, a remarkable passage; Joseph., Vita, 72, etc.), though the 
priestly Book of Chronicles severely blames King Asa for " not 
having consulted God, but the physicians" (2 Chron. xvi. 12). In 
later times the priests and Levites, who officiated barefooted at the 
Temple, had a special physician ("medicus viscerum ") to cure the 
colds to which they were liable ; the Essenes particularly were cele- 
brated for their knowledge of medicine and the natural sciences.' 

It has been explained that ' the art with the Israelites was only in 
its infancy. Individual observations and scattered experiences formed 
its substance ; there was neither the induction of instances, nor the 
power of mind requisite to form an art. Medical skill was restricted 
to the external handling of serious bodily injuries, and to the know- 
ledge of certain simples, of whose nature and working only a rough 
and vague idea was held. Chance sometimes threw better means in 
the way, but want of knowledge could turn them to but little account. 
Gradually, however, there was gathered a small treasure of skill and 

of resources, which was applied according to established rules 

Some of the precepts of the law rest on medical knowledge of a 
more or less accurate nature, in judging of which we must remember 
the age, climate, and race to which these precepts pertain.' 

The writer in Smith's Dictionary regards the illness of Jehoram as 
a severe dysentery, which was epidemic; and from verse 15 ('Until 
thy bowels fall out by reason of the sickness day by day ') it is 
assumed that the peculiar symptom was ' prolapsus ani ' (Dr. Mason 
Good mentions a case of the entire colon exposed). Perhaps, how- 
ever, it was what is known as diarrhoea tubularis, formed by the 
coagulation of fibrine into a membrane discharged from the inner 
coat of the intestines, which takes the mould of the bowel, and is 
thus expelled. 

Kitto says : ' Jehoram's disease is probably referable to chronic 
dysentery, which sometimes occasions an exudation of fibrine from 
the inner coats of the intestines. The fluid fibrine thus exuded 
coagulates into a continuous tubular membrane, of the same shape 
as the intestine itself, and as such is expelled. A precisely similar 
formation of false membranes, as they are termed, takes place in the 
windpipe in severe cases of croup.' 

Such a disease would certainly be regarded as incurable in those 
days ; and even now it would only be mastered if dealt with in its 
earlier stages. The language of Scripture may suggest a sudden 
form of disease, and one of an acute character ; but Bible writers 



THE INFECTION OF LEPROSY. 279 

prefer to recognise in it a disease of a chronic character. Geikie even 
goes so far as to say, * Jehoram, moreover, seemed in his own person 
to be judged and punished for his course by a long and agonizing 
internal disease which had struck him down. When, therefore, he 
died, no pretence of regret was heard ; the customary funeral honours 
of a king were denied him, and his body, refused admission to the 
royal tombs ' (possibly on account of the offensive character of his 
last illness), ' was buried in a separate spot inside the walls.' Two 
years is mentioned in verse 19 as the length of the disease, but this 
is not sufficient basis on which to decide its chronic character. 

If not absolutely curable and this cannot be decided without 
more minute details of its symptoms the patient could certainly, 
nowadays, have found great relief through medicine, or possibly 
through surgical skill. 

The Infection of Leprosy. 

LEVITICUS xiii. 46 : ' All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall 
be defiled ; he is unclean : he shall dwell alone ; without the camp shall his 
habitation be.' 

Question. Has modern scientific observation and study settled the 
question of the infection, or contagiousness, of leprosy ? 

Answer. This matter is still disputable, but the preponderating 
evidence favours the view that it is not contagious in the ordinary 
and popular sense. Trench's note is familiar to Bible students. ' I 
allude to the common misapprehension that leprosy was catching 
from one person to another, and that lepers were so carefully se- 
cluded from their fellow-men, lest they might communicate the 
poison of the disease to them, as in like manner that the torn gar- 
ment, the covered lip, the cry " Unclean, unclean !" were warnings 
to others that they should keep aloof, lest, unawares touching the 
lepers, or drawing into too great a nearness, they should become 
partakers of their disease. ... All those who have examined into 
the matter the closest are nearly of one consent, that the sickness 
was incommunicable by ordinary contact from one person to another. 
A leper might transmit it to his children, or the mother of a leper's 
children might take it from him ; but it was by no ordinary contact 
transferable from one person to another. All the notices in the Old 
Testament, as well as in other Jewish books, confirm the assertion 
that we have here something quite different from a mere sanitary 
regulation. Thus, where the law of Moses was not observed, no 
such exclusion necessarily found place. Naaman the leper com- 
manded the armies of Syria (2 Kings v. i) ; Gehazi, with his leprosy 



2 8o HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

that never should be cleansed, talked familiarly with the King of 
apostate Israel (2 Kings viii. 5). And even where the law of Moses 
was in force, the stranger and the sojourner were expressly exempted 
from the ordinances in relation to leprosy, which could not have 
been had the disease been contagious, and the motives of the leper's 
exclusion been not religious but civil, since the danger of the spread- 
ing of the disease would have been equal in their case and in that 
of native Israelites. How, moreover, should the Levitical priests, 
had the disease been this creeping infection, have ever themselves 
escaped it, obliged as they were, by their very office, to submit 
the leper to such actual handling and closest examination ? Light- 
foot can only explain this by supposing in their case a perpetual 
miracle.* 

In a note the Speaker's Commentary discusses this question, treat- 
ing leprosy under the scientific term, * Elephantiasis ' : ' But the 
question whether Elephantiasis is contagious or not is one of the 
most peculiar interest in connection with the Levitical law. The 
committee of the College of Physicians consider that the weight of 
evidence is decidedly on the negative side. The freedom with 
which lepers often live with, others in the closest domestic relation 
indicates that common opinion practically takes the same view. 
Several surgeons are said to have wounded themselves in the dissec- 
tion of leprous bodies, without suffering any characteristic injury. 
But many of those who have replied to the Leprosy Committee 
affirm their belief that the disease is contagious at a certain stage 
when the ulcers are running. It is evident that, if the disease is 
contagious, a very rare and critical concurrence of circumstances is 
required to develop the contagion. But it should not be overlooked 
that the contagiousness of a disease cannot be disproved by the mul- 
titude of escapes, if there are a few well-attested and well-observed 
facts in its favour. It cannot, at any rate, be doubted that the few 
Englishmen who have suffered from Elephantiasis have always, or 
nearly always, associated with leprous people, or lived in leprous 
countries. The case of Dr. Robertson, who, while superintending 
the leper-house in the Seychelles Islands, became a leper, is a very 
important one.' 

Mr. Wilson, in his ' Notes on the Granada Hospital,' says : ' An 
excellent observer in Mauritius, in a private letter, states that he 
has personally known only two Europeans affected with the disease. 
Each of these had married Creole women, apparently free from 
disease, but they have left leprous children.' 

H. E. W. Grant, private secretary to the Governor of Trinidad, 



THE INFECTION OF LEPROSY. 281 

writes as follows : * As the question of the contagiousness of leprosy 
has attracted considerable attention of late, I give the following in- 
formation : The Cocorite (leper) Asylum in Trinidad was established 
in 1845. The normal population for many years past may be 
roughly estimated at about 200. The management of the institution 
was entrusted to a staff of Dominican sisters in 1869, and it has 
remained in the hands of this body since that date. No sister 
attached to the institution has ever contracted the disease of leprosy. 
The resident superintendent, who resigned last year, but who still 
lives in the asylum, has never quitted its precincts for a day since 
1869, and the dispenser, who also was first appointed to the asylum 
twenty-one years ago, has only been absent from it for eight days 
during that period. Other sisters have been attached to the asylum 
as follows : two for fifteen years, two for thirteen, one for twelve, one 
for ten, one for nine, one for eight, and two for six years.' 

Dr. Ginsburg declares firmly that there was no fear of contagion 
on the part of the authorities who had personally to deal with this 
distemper. 

It is apparently clear that leprosy was popularly regarded as con- 
tagious ; the regulations made concerning it in every age and every 
land certainly suggest this. The law for the Synagogue was this : 
c If a leper comes into the synagogue he has to sit in a place apart, 
raised ten spans from the floor, and four cubits broad. He comes in 
first, and goes out last.' 

In his latest book, Geikie says : ' Lepers are found over the whole 
country. Precautions are, indeed, taken to guard the healthy, but 
as leprosy is not contagious, these are in reality of no value. In 
Bible times, anyone thought to be attacked was shut up, and re- 
moved outside the city on the disease showing itself, he, his clothes, 
his very house, and everything he touched, being pronounced un- 
clean. Nowadays, he may, perhaps, be allowed to live immediately 
inside the gates of Jerusalem, but he has still a separate dwelling 
assigned him, and everyone keeps aloof from him as polluted and 
dangerous. Nor will anyone touch a leper, or eat with him, or use 
anything he has handled. Arabs thrust a leper away from their 
encampments.' 

Harper gives a curious fact illustrative of the anxiety of the people 
to keep leprosy from spreading : ' An English resident medical man 
told how that more than once some man would come to him who 
had been driven out with curses from his village, the inhabitants of 
which declared that he showed signs of leprosy. A medical examina- 
tion of the closest nature failed to show any spot or blemish, and, 



282 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

obtaining a certificate to that effect, the man would go back to his 
village, only to be driven out again by its residents, and ere long 
that man did show the leprous sign, and became a complete leper. 
What enabled those ignorant people to detect the very first signs 
of the disease none can tell.' But. it is evident that they feared 
contagion, and their fear could only have been based on ex- 
perience. 

Egyptian Boils. 

EXODUS ix. 1 1 : ' And the Egyptians could not stand before Moses because of 
the boils ; for the boil was upon the magicians, and upon all the Egyptians.' 

Question. Are we to understand some new form of disease, or 
an exaggeration of an ordinary national trouble ? 

Answer. Three words are used for apparently the same afflic- 
tion. Boils, blains, botch. The word ' blains ' is found in Exod. ix. 
9, 10, where it is associated with ' boils.' ' It shall become small 
dust in all the land of Egypt, and shall be a boil breaking forth with 
blains upon man and upon beast throughout the land of Egypt.' 
The word 'botch ' is found in Deut. xxviii. 27, and is there mentioned 
as a characteristic Egyptian disease. * The Lord will smite thee with 
the botch of Egypt (various reading, " boil "), and with the emerods, 
and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be 
healed.' 

Boils and tumours are common in hot countries, and one of the 
causes may be the irritation produced by the particles of sand in the 
atmosphere. It has been declared by modern science, that a few 
handfuls of ashes can be divided into particles so inconceivably 
minute as to fill the air over a whole country. And Professor 
Tyndall's experiments incontestably show that invisibly small particles 
may be poisonous germs of infectious plagues. 

Roberts, who writes of Hindoo customs, tells us that ' when the 
magicians pronounce an imprecation on an individual, a village, or a 
country, they take ashes of cow's dung (or from a common fire) and 
throw them in the air, saying to the objects of their displeasure, such 
a sickness, or such a curse, shall surely come upon you.' 

Some identify the ' botch ' with the black form of leprosy, and 
speak of it as an eruption to which the Egyptians were subject at 
the rising of the Nile. There was first an inflamed ulcer or boil, and 
then the pustules, or blains, broke out upon it. * Cutaneous erup- 
tions of extreme severity are common in the valley of the Nile, 
some bearing a near resemblance to the symptoms described in this 



EG YPTIAN BOILS. 283 

passage. In an old calendar mention is made of several contagious 
diseases in the month of December. The analogy of natural law is 
still preserved, the miracle consisting in the severity of the plague, 
and its direct connection with the act of Moses.' (Speaker's Com- 
mentary.) 

Canon Rawlinson describes the disease as ' an inflammation pro- 
ducing pustules ;' and he adds : ' Diseases of this character are not 
uncommon in Egypt, but they are not often very severe ; nor do 
they attack indifferently man and beast. The miraculous character 
of the plague was shown (i) by its being announced beforehand ; (2) 
by its severity (Exod. ix. n); (3) by its universality ; and (4) by its 
extension to animals.' ' Rashi says of this " boil " : " It was very 
bad, being moist on the inside, and dry outside." A learned Dalma- 
tian Jew, with whom I have read this passage, tells me that he has 
seen many cases of this kind among the Hungarian and Polish Jews, 
and that it prevails among them, being traceable partly to their un- 
cleanliness.' 

Geikie associates the act of Moses with a well-known Egyptian 
custom. ' Handfuls of ashes from the " furnaces," it may be the 
smelting furnaces for iron the special emblems in Scripture of the 
bitter slavery of the Hebrews were sprinkled towards heaven in the 
sight of Pharaoh ; an act familiar to those who may have seen it 
done, though the import could not for the moment be realized. In 
various Egyptian towns, sacred to Set or Typhon, the god of Evil 
Heliopolis and Busiris, in the Delta, among them red-haired and 
light-complexioned men, and as such, foreigners, perhaps often 
Hebrews, were yearly offered in sacrifice to this hideous idol. After 
being burnt alive on a high altar, their ashes were scattered in the 
air by the priests, in the belief that they would avert evil from all 
parts whither they were blown. But now, the ashes thrown into the 
air by Moses, instead of carrying blessing with them, fell everywhere 
in a rain of blains and boils on the people, and even on the cattle 
which the murrain had spared.' Possibly in vague reference to this, 
Tacitus says : ' Many authors agree that a plague which made the 
body hideous having broken out in Egypt, the King Bocchoris, on 
the counsel of the oracle of Ammon, from which he had asked what 
he should do, was ordered to purge the kingdom of those thus 
afflicted, and to send them away to other countries, as hateful to the 
gods.' 

The ' botch ' seems to mean the foul ulcer mentioned by Aretaeus, 
and called by him aphtha, or eschare. He ascribes its frequency in 
Egypt to the mixed vegetable diet there followed, and to the use of 



284 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

the turbid water of the Nile, but adds that it is common in Ccelo- 
Syria. Advanced cases are said to have a cancerous aspect, and 
some even class it as a form of cancer, a disease dependent on faults 
of nutrition. 

A Disease of the Feet. 

2 CHRONICLES xvi. 12 : ' And in the thirty and ninth year of his reign Asa was 
diseased in his feet ; his disease was exceeding great ; yet in his disease he sought 
not to the Lord, but to the physicians.' 

Question. Can this disease be identified with any of those that 
afflict men in our time ? 

Answer. For c exceeding great,' some would read ' which moved 
upward,' and this suggests something of a dropsical character. The 
parallel passage, i Kings xv. 23, does not add much to our informa- 
tion : ' Nevertheless in the time of his old age he was diseased in his 
feet.' 

All that can be said is, that it may have been either ozdema> swel- 
ling, or podagra, gout. The former is common in aged persons, in 
whom, owing to 2he difficulty of the return upwards of the sluggish 
blood, the watery part stays in the feet. The latter, though rare in 
the East at present, is mentioned by the Talmudists, and there is no 
reason why it may not have been known in Asa's time. 

Most of the Bible writers identify Asa's disease with the ' gout.' 
Geikie says : ' At the close of a long and prosperous reign of forty- 
one years, King Asa died, after suffering for two years with a disease 
in the feet, apparently the gout, though details are not given.' The 
word commencing the sentence in i Kings xv. 23, 'nevertheless,' 
suggests some direct connection between his doings, or his neglect- 
ings, and his disease. ' Nevertheless ' sets us upon thinking that he 
need not have suffered in this way if he had been more careful ; and 
it is quite usual to connect the gout with self-indulgence in meat and 
drink. 

Job's Disease. 

JOB ii. 7, 8 : 'So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote 
Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown. And he took him a 
potsherd to scrape himself withal ; and he sat down among the ashes. 5 

Difficulty. If Job's disease be identified as a form of leprosy, it 
becomes strange that no intimation is given of any miraculous heal- 
ing. 

Explanation. There is no absolute necessity for any such 
identification. The descriptions of the symptoms of the disease are 
not sufficiently distinct to guide any decision ; and we must bear in 



JOB'S DISEASE. 285 

mind that men might be, and have been, afflicted with boils covering 
their bodies, which were of a simple, and curable, and in no sense of 
a malignant type. Indeed, the word ' boils ' suggests a curable kind 
of complaint. Gatherings and boils are not infrequently signs of the 
impoverishment of the blood and general depression, following upon 
prolonged seasons of anxiety and distress such as Job had known. 
The fact of his having, later on, a family of beautiful children not 
only affirms the completeness of his cure, but declares the temporary 
and local character of his complaint. We prefer to regard his disease 
as a simple case of boils, producing, as they do when forming, 
intense irritation, and when rising to a head great pain and ex- 
haustion. 

But other opinions may be given, and in the study of them all the 
reader may form a satisfactory judgment. 

Kitto makes a point of the boil in this case being ' a sore boil,' and 
;ays : ' The opinion entertained by the best scholars and physicians 
s, that it was the elephantiasis , or black leprosy, so called to distinguish 
t from the white leprosy, which was that most frequently indicated in 
he laws of Moses bearing on the subject ; and was also the kind 
vith which Miriam and Gehazi were smitten, for they are described 
.s having become * white as snow.' The opinion that Job's disease 
ras the black leprosy is also of most ancient date. It is founded on 
he indications which the book contains, and which are observed to 
nswer to this disease. These indications are afforded in the fact of 
iis skin being so covered from head to foot that he took a potsherd 
3 scrape himself; in its being covered with putrefactions and crusts 
f earth, and being at one time stiff and hard, while at another it 
racked and discharged fluid ; in the offensive breath, which drove 
way the kindness of his attendants ; in the restless nights, which 
r ere either sleepless, or scared with frightful dreams; in general 
maciation of the body ; and in so intense a loathing of the burden 
f life that strangling and death were preferable to it. The black 
iprosy, which has been described as " a universal ulcer," is by some 
apposed to have received its current medical name of "elephantiasis" 
om the Greeks, on account of its rendering the skin like that of an 

ephant, scabrous and dark-coloured, and furrowed all over with 
ibercles. But others rather trace the name to the resemblance 
hich may be found in the patient's foot to that of the elephant, 
Iter the toes have been lost, the hollow of the foot filled up, and the 
ikle enlarged.' 

Delitzsch says : ' The description of this disease calls to mind 
cut. xxviii. 35 with 27, and is, according to the symptoms men- 



286 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

tioned further on in the book, elephantiasis, Lepra nodosa, the most 
fearful form of lepra, which sometimes seizes persons even of the 
higher ranks. Artapan says that an Egyptian king was the first man 
who died of this disease. Baldwin, King of Jerusalem, was afflicted 
with it in a very dangerous form. The disease begins with the rising 
of tubercular boils, and at length resembles a cancer spreading itself 
over the whole body, by which the body is so affected that some of 
the limbs fall completely away. Scraping with a potsherd will not 
only relieve the intolerable itching of the skin, but also remove the 
matter.' 

Those who take the view that the Book of Job is a poem written 
in the Solomonic age, and based upon an ancient legend of the 
' Patriarch of Uz,' are not required to seek for any precise identifica- 
tion of the disease. For the purposes of the poet, some disease 
involving irritation, disgrace, and depression of spirits, is selected, 
and the descriptions given of it are designedly poetical and suggestive, 
rather than critical, historical, or scientific. It may be possible to 
find notice of symptoms similar to those of elephantiasis ; but they 
are symptoms found in connection with other diseases ; and the most 
marked feature of elephantiasis the falling away of limbs is cer- 
tainly wanting in this case of Job. To form an exact judgment it 
would be necessary for us to know accurately, not only the 
symptoms that were present, but also the symptoms that were 
absent. 

The question of the historical or imaginative character of the Book 
of Job is discussed elsewhere. Here it need only be remarked that, 
if the work is strictly historical, there ought to be some plain indica- 
tions of the agencies by which Job's cure from such a dreadful 
disease was effected. As a poem, the writer was under no obligation 
to provide such details, and the winding up of the book is certainly a 
remarkable illustration of what is called ' poetical justice.' It is cer- 
tainly extraordinary, and beyond easy explanation, if it must be 
treated as historical. 

Leprosy in Clothing and Houses. 

LEVITICUS xiii. 47 : ' The garment also that the plague of leprosy is in, whether 
it be a woollen garment or a linen garment.' 

LEVITICUS xiv. 34 : ' And I put the plague of leprosy in a house of the land of 
your possession.' 

Difficulty. Can a disease be properly spoken of as affecting both 
houses, garments, and people ? 

Explanation. Infection will linger in house and in garment, 
and this we know well in relation to ordinary forms of infectious 



LEPROSY IN CLOTHING AND HOUSES. 287 

disease ; and no more than this may possibly be meant in relation to 
leprosy. Certain conditions of the houses and the garments may 
have been regarded as productive of the disease. So we speak of 
scarlet-fever being in houses, or being conveyed by garments. And 
Thomson helps to this suggestion when he says that the upper rooms 
of the houses in Palestine, if not constantly ventilated, become quickly 
covered with mould, and are unfit to live in. 

But the Mosaic regulations seem to involve something more serious 
than that, and even appear to support the conclusions of Sommer, 
Kurtz, and other recent authors, who attribute a vegetable origin to 
the leprosy. Hugh Macmillan takes this view, and gives some 
specially interesting information. ' The characteristics mentioned in 
the Levitical narrative are such as can belong only to plants. There 
are some species of fungi which could have produced all the effects 
described, and whose form and colour answer admirably to the 
appearances presented by the leprosy. We are, therefore, safe in 
believing that the phenomena described were caused by fungi. 

The leprosy of the house consisted of reddish and greenish patches. 
The reddish patches on the wall were, in all likelihood, caused by the 
presence of a fungus well known under the common name of dry-rot, 
ind called by botanists, Merulius lachrymans. Builders have often pain- 
ul evidence of the virulent and destructive nature of this scourge. Most 
people are acquainted with the effects of this fungus, but its form and 
ippearance are familiar to only a few. At first it makes its presence 
mown by a few delicate white threads, which radiate from a common 
centre, and resemble a spider's web. Gradually these threads 
Become thicker and closer, coalescing more and more, until at last 
hey form a dense cottony cushion of yellowish-white colour and 
oundish shape. The size of this vegetable cushion varies from an 
nch to eight inches in diameter, according as it has room to develop 
tself and is supplied with the appropriate pabulum. Hundreds of 
;uch sponge-like cushions may be seen in places affected by the 
lisease oozing out through interstices in the floor or wall. At a later 
itage of growth the fungus developes over its whole surface a number 
>f fine orange or reddish-brown veins, forming irregular folds, most 
requently so arranged as to have the appearance of pores, and dis- 
illing, when perfect, drops of water, whence its specific name of 
achrymans, or weeping. When fully matured it produces an immense 
mmber of rusty seeds, so minute as to be invisible to the naked eye, 
yhich are diffused throughout the atmosphere, and are ever ready to 
.light and germinate in suitable circumstances.' 

* The greenish streaks were caused by a much] humbler kind of 



288 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

fungus, the common green mould, or Pemcilium glaucu m of botanists. 
This fungus is extremely abundant everywhere, and seems to have been 
no less general in the ancient world, for we find traces of it pretty fre- 
quently in amber, mixed with fragments of lichens and mosses. To 
the naked eye it is a mere greenish, downy crust, spreading over a 
decaying surface, but under the microscope it presents a singularly 
lovely spectacle. The little patch of dusty cobweb is transformed 
into a fairy forest of the most exquisite shapes. Hundreds of delicate 
transparent stalks rise up from creeping, interlacing roots of snowy 
purity, crowned with bundles of slender hairs, each like a miniature 
painter's brush. Interspersed among these hairs, which, under a 
higher power of the microscope are seen to be somewhat intricately 
branched, occur greenish, dust-like particles, which are the sporidia, 
or seed-cases, containing in their interior the excessively minute and 
impalpable spores or germs by which the species is perpetuated.' 

'The leprosy of garments may have been caused by the same 
fungi.' 

Dr. Hay man, writing in ' Smith's Dictionary,' deals with this 
question. ' Some have thought garments worn by leprous patients 
are intended. The discharges of the diseased skin absorbed into the 
apparel would, if infection were possible, probably convey disease ; 
and it is known to be highly dangerous in some cases to allow clothes 
which have so imbibed the discharges of an ulcer to be worn again. 
But no mention of infection occurs ; no connection of the leprous 
garment with a leprous human wearer is hinted at : and this would 
not help us to account for a leprosy of stone walls and plaster. . . . 
It is now known that there are some skin diseases which originate in 
an acarus, and others which proceed from a fungus. In these we 
may probably find the solution of the paradox. The analogy between 
the insect which frets the human skin and that which frets the gar- 
ment that covers it, between the fungus growth that lines the crevices 
of the epidermis and that which creeps in the interstices of masonry, 
is close enough for the purposes of a ceremonial law, to which it is 
essential that there should be an arbitrary element intermingled with 
provisions manifestly reasonable. ... It is manifest also that a 
disease in the human subject caused by an acarus or by a fungus 
would be certainly contagious, since the propagative cause could be 
transferred from person to person. Some physicians, indeed, assert 
that only such skin diseases are contagious. Hence, perhaps, arose 
a further reason for marking, even in their analogues among lifeless 
substances, the strictness with which forms of disease so arising were 
to be shunned.' 



THE MANIA OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR. 289 



The Mania of Nebuchadnezzar. 

DANIEL iv. 33 : * The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar : 
and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet 
with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown as eagle's feathers, and his nails 
like bird's claws.' 

Difficulty. As grass will not nourish human bodies, this must be 
a poetical rather than historical description ; or it must need some im- 
portant qualifications. 

Explanation. Nebuchadnezzar's disease certainly belongs to 
the more obscure, infrequent, and extraordinary cases of mania. We 
may assume that he personated the habits of the beast he supposed 
himself to be, but the term ' grass ' must be taken as including cereal 
food, or we must understand that he was supplied with other and 
more nutritious forms of vegetable food than grass. 

Hugh Macmillan points out that the grasses are the food of 
animals which supply man with milk and flesh, but that man cannot 
himself digest the grasses, and could not live on this food alone. 
Possibly the king's mania came on in paroxysms of intensity, and 
usually he may have been fed in some reasonable way. 

Interesting accounts are given of persons suffering from this class 
of mania. Dr. Nicholson, the physician, says : ' The disease was a 
species of melancholy monomania, called by authors zoanthropia, or 
more commonly lycanthropia, because the transformation into a wolf 
was the most ordinary illusion. Esquirol considers it to have 
originated in the ancient custom of sacrificing animals. But what- 
ever effect this practice might have had at the time, the cases 
recorded are independent of any such influence ; and it really does 
not seem necessary to trace this particular hallucination to a remote 
historical cause, when we remember that the imaginary transforma- 
tions into inanimate objects, such as glass, butter, etc., which are of 
every-day occurrence, are equally irreconcilable with the natural 
instincts of the mind. The same author relates that a nobleman of 
the court of Louis XIV. was in the habit of frequently putting his 
head out of a window, in order to satisfy the urgent desire he had to 
bark. Calmet informs us that the nuns of a German convent were 
transformed into cats, and went mewing over the whole house at a 
fixed hour of the day.' 

Geikie tells us that ' instances of those afflicted in this way, eating 
grass, leaves, twigs, etc., like the great king, are familiar to medical 
men. Nor is it uncommon for the mind to lose its balance in some 
direction, in one raised so far above all other men as a mighty 

19 



2 9 o HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

despot, and so irresponsible. . . . That some terrible illness seized 
Nebuchadnezzar is strangely proved by the recent discovery of a 
bronze doorstep, presented by him to the great temple of El Saggil, 
at Borsippa,'one of the suburbs or divisions of Babylon. It speaks 
of his having been afflicted, and of his restoration to health, and may 
well have been a votive offering to the gods on his recovery from the 
attack mentioned in Daniel.' 

Dr. William Wright gathers up some information which greatly 
helps toward the elucidation of this difficulty in Kino's ' Cyclopaedia. 1 
' The difficulties attending the nature of the disease and recovery of 
Nebuchadnezzar, have not escaped the notice of commentators in 
ancient as well as modern times. The impression made by them on 
the acute mind of Origen, that father thus expresses : ' How is it 
possible to suppose a man metamorphosed into a beast ? This 
sounds well enough in the poets, who speak of the companions of 
Ulysses and of Diomede as transformed into birds and wolves, fables 
which existed in the poet's imagination only. But how could a 
prince like Nebuchadnezzar, reared in delicacy and pleasure, be able 
to live naked for seven years, exposed to the inclemency of the 
weather, and having no nourishment but grass and wild fruits? 
How could he resist the violence of wild beasts? Who governed 
the empire of Chaldaea in his absence? ... It must be borne in 
mind that Origen's passion for allegorizing frequently led him to 
overstate the difficulties of Scripture, and his own solution of those 
which he enumerates, viz., that the account of Nebuchadnezzar's 
metamorphosis was merely a representation of the fall of Lucifer, is 
not likely to meet with many supporters. Besides Origen's, there 
have been no less than five different opinions in reference to this 
subject. Bodin maintains that Nebuchadnezzar underwent an actual 
metamorphosis of soul and body, a similar instance of which is given 
by Cluvier on the testimony of an eye-witness. Tertullian confines 
the transformation to the body only, but without loss of reason, of 
which kind of metamorphosis St. Augustine reports some instances 
said to have taken place in Italy, to which he himself attaches little 
credit ; but Gaspard Peucer asserts that the transformation of men 
into wolves was very common in Livonia. Some Jewish Rabbins 
have asserted that the soul of Nebuchadnezzar, by a real transmi- 
gration, changed places with that of an ox ; while others have sup- 
posed not a real, but an apparent or docetic change, of which there 
is a case recorded in the life of St. Macarius, the parents of a young 
woman having been persuaded that their daughter had been trans- 
formed into a mare. The most generally received opinion, however, 



ELISHA'S WAY OF RESTORING A DEAD CHILD. 291 

is, that Nebuchadnezzar laboured under the species of hypochon- 
driacal monomania, which leads the patient to fancy himself changed 
into an animal (or other substance), the habits of which he adopts.' 

The Scripture statements are quite satisfied by our assuming that 
during seven years Nebuchadnezzar was subject to fits of insanity, 
and while they were on him, imagined himself an animal, and 
behaved as if he really were one. During his fits he would be kept 
securely within the palace grounds. 



Elisha's Way of Restoring a Dead Child. 

2 KINGS iv. 34 : * And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth 
upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands ; and he 
stretched himself upon the child ; and the flesh of the child waxed warm.' 

Difficulty. This seems to be the restoration of the child by natural 
means. It is not easy to see where the miraculous element comes in, 
since all restorative means are dependent on God's power working 
through them. 

Explanation. We are at grave disadvantage in the absence of 
scientific descriptions of Bible diseases. It is certainly open to any- 
one to suggest that this was a case of suspended animation, rather 
than of death, and that the child was restored by the will-power of 
the prophet. There have been cases in which doctors have, by their 
own breath, started the vital action of the organs in new-born 
children. There have been cases in which life has been breathed 
into those who were unconscious from drowning. And there is good 
and sufficient evidence to support the claims of those who affirm that 
persons can recover the dying under certain circumstances by 
willing their life into them. 

It must also be borne in mind that both Old and New Testament 
miracles are associated with some kind of agency. Our Lord made 
clay and anointed the eyes He opened. Elisha put wood to make 
iron swim, etc. It may be that the agency was not essential to the 
miracle, and yet it seems more reverent to say, that if it was used it 
was essential, and there must be something for us to learn from the 
fact that the miracle was made dependent on the agency. 

All restorative agents, be they medical or surgical, electrical, 
mesmeric, hypnotic, biological, or otherwise, we regard as absolutely 
dependent on the Divine blessing. A recovery from disease is never 
adequately explained by treating only the agency ; the effective force 
behind the agency must be considered, and that is God working. 
We may then distinctly recognise in Elisha's acts restorative agencies, 

192 



292 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

and with equal distinctness hold'that the efficient force which worked 
through the agency was the miraculous power of God. 

The result of sunstroke may be unconsciousness and suspended 
animation ; and from sunstroke this child evidently suffered. In such 
a case nowadays effort would certainly be directed to the restoration 
of suspended vitality, just as in cases of drowning. And we must 
bear in mind that there is no support of the woman's idea that the 
child was dead ; she acted on her own conviction with great prompti- 
tude and great secrecy. 

The narrative clearly indicates that the restoration of the child in- 
volved so much physical exhaustion for Elisha, that he had to stop 
in the middle of it, and restore his own wasted breath by walking to 
and fro in the house. We may say that it was a case of miraculous 
restoration in which the material agency employed was unusually ex- 
tensive and long-continued. 

A Cloth on the Face. 

2 KINGS viii. 15 : ' And it came to pass on the morrow, that he took a thick 
cloth, and dipped it in water, and spread it on his face, so that he died.' 

Question. Did Hazael do this as a remedy y or with the distinct 
intention of putting his master to death ? 

Answer. The Revised Version renders, ' He took the coverlet/ 
The word used means literally * The woven cloth.' This alteration 
of the Authorized Version suggests that Hazael attempted to ad- 
minister what we should now call the * water-cure.' He may have 
applied it at an unsuitable time, or it may have proved unsuitable for 
this particular patient. We only know that the result was fatal, but 
the record leaves open the question whether the death was designed 
or accidental. If there is bias in the narrative, it certainly is 
against Hazael, who seems to have been excited to action by the 
prophecy of his becoming king. The words spoken by Elisha to 
Hazael (verse 12) indicate that he was a man of violent and un- 
scrupulous character, who would think little of removing his king if 
he stood in the way of his ambitions. 

Harper takes the view that Hazael intended murder. Elisha saw 
from Hazael's face the black thought in his heart, for murder was. 
seething there; and though he indignantly says, 'Is thy servant a 
dog, that he should do this great thing ?' yet he goes back, and with 
a wet cloth suffocates his royal master, and usurps the throne. 

GeikiJs explanation is quite imaginative. ' Next day, however, 
Hazael was king. He, or some one commissioned by him, had 



A CLOTH ON THE FACE. 293 

overpowered Benhadad in his bath, and had suffocated him with the 
wet cloths he had been using.' 

Ewald says, ' On the next day, however, the king was found dead, 
not certainly from his illness, but from violence ; as he was going to 
take his bath, his servant (we do not know from what particular 
motive) dipped the bath-cloth into the warm water, and, before the 
king could call for help, drew it so tight over his head that he was 
smothered.' 

Josephus tells us that Hazael strangled his master with a mosquito- 
net. 

Dr. Lumby thinks the means Hazael employed was probably the 
coverlet of the bed, which, soaked and laid over the sick man's face, 
would effectually stop his breath. Death so caused would give very 
little sign of violence, and might in those early times be readily re- 
ferred to the disease of which the king was sick. 

The Speakers Commentary thinks that the article used was 'a 
cloth, or mat, placed between the head and the upper part of the 
bedstead, which in Egypt and Assyria was often so shaped that 
pillows (in our sense) were unnecessary.' It mentions, but only to 
reject, the notion of Geddes, Boothroyd and Schultz, that Benhadad 
is the subject of the verbs 'took,' 'dipped,' 'spread,' and that he put 
the cloth on himself to give himself relief, and so unintentionally 
caused his own death. As illustration, it notices that Suetonius 
declares the Roman Emperor, Tiberius, to have been smothered 
with his pillow as he lay upon a sick-bed. 

Bruce, in his travels, gives an account of a fever which prevailed 
in Abyssinia, called the nedad, and he adds : ' If the patient sur- 
vives till the fifth day, he very often recovers by drinking water only, 
and throwing a quantity of cold water upon him, even on his bed, 
where he is nevertheless permitted to lie without attempting to make 
him dry or to change his bed, till another deluge adds to the first. 
Such a custom suggests the possibility that Hazael was doing his 
best, or perhaps only pretending to do his best, to effect a water- 
cure.' 

Stanley says, Elisha 'gazed earnestly on Hazael's face; saw his 
future elevation, and saw with it the calamities which that elevation 
would bring on his country .... Hazael himself stood astounded 
at the prophet's message. He, insignificant as he seemed, a mere 
dog, to be raised to such lofty power, and do such famous deeds ! 
But so it was to be. By his deed, or another's, the king died, not of 
his illness, but by an apparent accident in his bath ; and Hazael was 
at once raised to the throne of Syria. 



294 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES, 



(NEW TESTAMENT.) 

The Medicine of our Lord's Time. 

MARK v. 26 : ' And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had 
spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse.' 

Question. Is it possible to discover any scientific elements in the 
medical system of the time of our Lord? 

Answer. The Cyclopaedias deal fully with the medical systems 
associated with the Old Testament, and but little with those associated 
with the New Testament. 

Dr. E. Stapfer, in his work on 'Palestine in the Time of Christ/ 
has collected some curious and interesting information. He says : 
' Everyone at this moment meddled with medicine, yet no one 
understood its very first principles. Scientific medicine had been 
known in Greece for five hundred years, but it had been confined 
to that country. The persistent ignorance of the Jews on th subject 
of medicine is accounted for by. their belief that sickness was the 
punishment of sins committed either by the sufferer himself or by his 
relations ; hence it was almost always attributed to the action of evil 
spirits. The only cure possible, therefore, was the expulsion of the 
evil spirit (or spirits, for there might be many), and the whole science 
of medicine consisted in discovering the best method of exorcising 
the demon. It was not the most educated man who was competent 
to this work of benevolence, but the most religious. The more pious 
a man was, the more fit was he to heal the sick, that is, to cast out 
the evil spirits. Everyone, therefore, practised this art of healing as 
best he could for himself and for those who belonged to him. The 
rabbis, scribes, and doctors of the law undertook the casting out 
demons, and some of them were considered very skilful in the art. 
The healing art was simply exorcism. . . . When the sick man was not 
possessed, the methods of cure were moreserious. . . . Some doctors tried 
to employ real remedies. The Essenes, for example, were acquainted 
with some medicinal herbs, and knew their properties. They were 
the possessors of the famous Book of Incantations said to be by 
King Solomon. Perhaps it contained some recipes which may have 
been of use. The softening, soothing properties of oil seem to have 
been appreciated even then. It was often mixed with wine, and this 
remedy is still very efficacious in certain cases. The sick man was 
anointed with oil. These unctions may, however, have been credited 
with some magic virtue. Nor is this all. Occasionally the Talmuds 



THE MEDICINE OF OUR LORD'S TIME. 295 

speak of prescriptions for other complaints. The cedar cone was used 
in medicine. Ophthalmia was common. The traveller is struck now 
with the number of blind people in the East. Thus the Bible speaks 
of eye-salve. It was a favourite remedy to wash the eyes with saliva 
and wine. This gave much relief, but it was forbidden to use it on 
the Sabbath-day.' 

Stapfer gives a curious passage from the Talmud of Babylon 
illustrating the treatment of a patient suffering as did the woman 
mentioned in the passage at the head of this paragraph. We know 
who these physicians were. They were the rabbis. And we know 
also what remedies they had prescribed for this poor woman. Rabbi 
Yochanan says : * Take a denarius weight of gum of Alexandria, a 
denarius weight of alum, a denarius weight of garden saffron, pound 
all together, and give it to the woman in some wine. If this remedy 
does not succeed, take three times three logs of Persian onions, boil 
them in the wine, and give this to the woman to drink, saying to her, 
" Be free from thy sickness." If this does not succeed, take her to a 
place where two roads meet, put in her hands a cup of wine, and let 
some one coming up behind, startle her, saying to her : " Be free from 
thy sickness." If still nothing answers, take a handful of saffron and 
a handful of fcenum grcecum, boil them in some wine, and give it her 
to drink, saying : " Be free from thy sickness." ' 

The Talmud goes on thus, proposing a dozen other means to be 
used, among them the following : ' Dig seven pits, and burn in them 
some vine-branches not yet four years old. Then let the woman, 
carrying a cup of wine in her hand, come up to each pit in succession, 
and sit down by the side of it, and each time let the words be 
repeated : "Be free from thy sickness." ' 

The mixture of science and superstition in these very curious 
prescriptions is striking. 



Saliva as a Curative Agent. 

JOHN ix. 6 : * When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay 
of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay.' 

Question. Are we to recognise in the clay so mixed an actual 
agent in effecting the recovery of this man's eyesight ? 

Answer. The incident is to be viewed entirely from the side of 
the blind man. The use of an agent was not necessary for the 
people 5 or for the disciples, but the man, being unable to see, could 
only be approached and influenced through feeling. The feeling 



296 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

had to be one which he would be able to recognise ; the remedy was 
probably one which he had tried before. It had hitherto been 
inefficient ; then, since it was now efficient, the difference lay not in 
the clay, but in the person administering. So his faith was drawn out 
to Christ. 

The point needing illustration is the popular sentiment concerning 
saliva in the time of our Lord. There can be little doubt that the 
means used by our Lord found their place in the ordinary prescriptions 
of the day. ' We know from the pages of Pliny, and Tacitus, and 
Suetonius, that the saliva jejuna was held to be a remedy in cases of 
blindness, and that the same remedy was used by the Jews is 
established by the writings of the Rabbis. That clay was so used 
is not equally certain, but this may be regarded as the vehicle by 
means of which the saliva was applied. Physicians had applied such 
means commonly to cases of post-natal blindness, but congenital 
blindness had always been regarded as incurable.' 

Farrar and Geikie both tell us that it was the belief, in antiquity, 
that the saliva of one who was fasting was of benefit to weak eyes, 
and that clay relieved those who suffered from tumours on the eye- 
lids. It may be that Jesus thought of this. 

Dr. Plummer says : ' Regard for Christ's truthfulness compels us to 
regard the clay as the means of healing ; not that He could not heal 
without it, but that he willed this to be the channel of His power. 
Elsewhere He uses spittle, to heal a blind man (Mark viii. 23) ; to 
heal a deaf and dumb man (Mark vii. 33). Spittle was believed to 
be a remedy for diseased eyes (comp. Vespasian's reputed miracle, 
"Tac. Hist.," iv. 81, and other instances); clay also, though less 
commonly. So that Christ selects an ordinary remedy, and gives it 
success in a case confessedly beyond its supposed power (v. 32).' 

Trench says : 'The virtue especially of \hesalivajejuna, in cases of 
disorders of the eyes, was well known to antiquity.' 



Devil-Possessions, viewed Medically. 

MATTHEW ix. 28 : ' There met him two possessed with devils (demons) 
coming forth out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man could pass by 
that way.' 

Difficulty. Medical Science seems able to account for these and 
similar cases without having any resort to suppositions of spirit pos- 
sessions. 

Explanation. In the former volume, ' Handbook of Biblical 
Difficulties,' p. 515, this topic was somewhat fully treated. It is 



DEVIL-POSSESSIONS, VIEWED MEDICALLY. 297 

only necessary to add here some of the more recent additions to the 
elucidation of a difficult subject. 

Dr. E. Stapfer says : ' Cases of madness, hysteria, hallucination, 
were frequent among the Jews in the first century. If they were 
wrong in calling almost every sort of disease "possession," it was 
very natural that they should give the name of possessed persons, or 
demoniacs, to the sufferers from those strange nervous affections 
which still baffle science. We know now what these so-called 
" possessions " were, and anyone who has witnessed one of the crises 
of mania can easily understand how among the Jews, and in the 
middle ages, people believed in the influence of demons. These 
affections were all the more frequent in the time of Christ, on account 
of the state of high-strung religious and political excitement in which 
the Jewish people were living.' 

It should be kept in mind, that the descriptions given of these 
' demoniacs ' in the New Testament depend entirely on the casual 
observation of the beholder, toned by the common sentiment and 
superstition of the age. In no instance have we anything that can be 
called a scientific record of the signs of the disease. It is, therefore, 
difficult for us to say whether modern medical science has covered and 
included all the New Testament cases. Scientific details now given 
can hardly be expected to match precisely what are merely vague and 
indefinite hints and descriptions. But a candid mind could hardly 
fail to recognise, that the presumption is wholly in favour of the strictly 
medical character of all these so-called devil-possessions. Indeed, 
the explanation of them as spirit-possessions would never be suggested 
to anyone unless a previous theory in relation to the malevolent 
influence of spirits were held. We can hardly hesitate to class them 
under ' diseases. 3 

There is, however, still found among Bible writers an unwillingness 
to yield the idea that some unique form of suffering through the 
agency of spirits is meant ; and we must therefore submit the 
matter to the judgment of our readers, who are likely to take one or the 
other view, according as they are related to the materialistic or 
spiritualistic schools of thought. 

Stalker says : ' Besides these bodily cures, . He dealt with the 
diseases of the mind. These seem to have been peculiarly 
prevalent in Palestine at the time, and to have excited the utmost 
terror. They were believed to be accompanied by the entrance of 
demons into the poor imbecile or raving victims, and this idea was 
only too true.' 

Vallings say : ' The psychology of demonism is obscure. Modern 



298 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

lunacy furnishes points of contact, and apparent instances of it now 
and then. But the two are not to be confounded, as the ordinary 
lunatic may merely suffer from some cerebral disease, while the 
demonized need have none.' But proof of this distinction is lacking. 

Medicinal Value of Music. 

I SAMUEL xvi. 16 : ' Let our lord now command thy servants, which are before 
thee, to seek out a man who is a cunning player on the harp : and it shall come to 
pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, 
and thou shall be well.' 

Difficulty. There may be a soothing value in music > but only in a 
way of accommodation can it be called a medicinal agent. 

Explanation. It is quite true that all disease involves the 
disturbance of some bodily process, the injury, or unnatural working, 
of some bodily organ, and music can hardly be thought of as repair- 
ing or restoring such. But we are learning more and more clearly 
that many forms of disease have their true causes in conditions 
of mind. The diseased brain, or nervous system, may be the 
effect of the real disease, whose seat is in disposition, character, feel- 
ing, etc. There are two ways in which disease may be viewed. 
Bodily conditions may create mental conditions ; but it is equally true 
that mental conditions may create bodily conditions. Constantly the 
doctor, visiting a fresh patient, will have to say : * You have something 
on your mind ;' or * Have you not had some great trouble lately ?' or 
' You have been overworking the brain.' Now music may be a 
restorative agent when the cause of disease is mental, or belongs 
to character rather than to bodily organ. 

Saul's case belongs to the mental, and not to the bodily, class, 
though the account we have of him suggests some slowness of brain- 
movement, which may have developed into an obscure form of 
insanity. Jealousy was the irritating cause of his times of un- 
restrained passion ; and there are illustrations of the medicamental 
power of music in such cases. 

The prominent feature of Saul's disease was fits of moodiness and 
melancholy, which sometimes were so severe as to become murderous 
mania. There is a story recorded concerning Philip V. of Spain. 
He was seized with a total dejection of spirits, which rendered him 
incapable of appearing in Court, or of attending to his affairs. A 
celebrated musician, Farinelli, was invited to Spain, and he gained 
power over the king by the fascination of his songs. 

Edersheim writes, somewhat fancifully : ' The evil spirit sent from 
God was the messenger of that evil which in the Divine judgment was 



MEDICINAL VALUE OF MUSIC. 299 

to come upon Saul, visions of which now affrighted the king, filled 
him with melancholy, and brought him to the verge of madness but 
not to repentance. It is thus, also, that we can understand how 
the music of David's harp soothed the spirit of Saul, while those 
hymns which it accompanied perhaps some of his earliest psalms 
brought words of heaven, thoughts of mercy, strains of another 
world, to the troubled soul of the king/ 

Francis Jacox gathers up some very striking examples of what he 
calls ' Medicamental Music :' ' That there is something more than 
ordinary in music, Bishop Beveridge, in his "Private Thoughts," 
infers from this fact that David made use of the harp for driving 
away the evil spirit from Saul, as well as for bringing the good spirit 
upon himself. The gentle prelate therefore recognises in music a 
sort of secret and charming power, such as naturally dispels " those 
black humours which the evil spirit is apt to brood upon," and such, 
too, as composes the mind into a more regular, sweet, and docile 
disposition, thereby rendering it " the fitter for the Holy Spirit to 
work upon, the more susceptive of Divine grace, and more faithful 
messenger to convey truth to the understanding." ' And he cites his 
personal experience experto crede in favour of this view. 

Buretti declares music to have the power of so affecting the whole 
nervous system as to give sensible ease in a large variety of disorders, 
and in some cases a radical cure. Particularly he instances sciatica 
as capable of being relieved by this agency. Theophrastus is men- 
tioned by Pliny as recommending it for the hip-gout ; and there are 
references on record by old Cato and Varro to the same effect. 
yEsculapius figures in Pindar as healing acute disorders with soothing 

songs : 

' Music exalts each joy, allays each grief, 
Expels diseases, softens every pain, 
Subdues the rage of poison and of plague ; 
And hence the wise of ancient days adored 
One power of Physic, Melody, and Song.' 

Over Luther, as Sir James Stephen has remarked, there brooded a 
constitutional melancholy, sometimes engendering sadness, but more 
often giving birth to dreams so wild that, if vivified by the imagina- 
tion of Dante, they might have passed into visions as awful and 
majestic as those in the ' Inferno.' Various were the spells to which 
Luther had recourse, to cast out the demons that haunted him ; and 
of these remedial agencies the most potent, perhaps, was music. 
' He had ascertained and taught that the spirit of darkness abhors 
sweet sounds not less than light itself; for music (he says), while it 
chases away the evil suggestions, effectually baffles the wiles of the 



300 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

tempter. His lute, and hand, and voice, accompanying his own 
solemn melodies, were therefore raised to repel the vehement aggres- 
sions of the enemy of mankind.' 

It is characteristic, as Herr Kohl observes, of music-loving 
Bohemia, that, in the lunatic asylum of its capital, music should be 
considered one of the chief aids and appliances for the improvement of 
the patients. In addition to the garden concerts, in which all assist 
who can, there is chamber-music quartets, trios, etc. every morn- 
ing and evening in the wards, and a musical-director takes high rank 
in the official staff of the establishment. 

Elizabeth Charlotte of Orleans, mother of the Regent, describes in 
one of her letters a Madame de Persillie, well born and well bred, but a 
dangerous lunatic ; who, however, if you could but slip a guitar into 
her hand when the fury-fit came on, would become calm again as 
soon as she began to play. 

Browning, in ' Paracelsus,' has the following lines : 

' My heart ! they loose my heart, those simple words; 
Its darkness passes, which nought else could touch ; 
Like some dank snake that force may not expel, 
Which glideth out to music sweet and low.' 

Paul's Thorn in the Flesh. 

2 CORINTHIANS xii. 7 : ' Wherefore, that I should not be exalted overmuch, 
there was given to me a thorn (stake) in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet 
me, that I should not be exalted overmuch.' (Rev. Ver.) 

Question. Have modern discussions provided ground for a decision 
concerning this chronic affliction of the apostle ? 

Answer. It may be said with some confidence that the evi- 
dences and the arguments favour the idea that St. Paul suffered from 
chronic inflammation of the eyes. The word chosen by the apostle, 
which is translated 'thorn,' means a stake, or goad, a thing that 
pricks, and this would suggest the painful and extremely irritating 
pricking sensation that is characteristic of inflammation of the eye. 

Various other suggestions have been offered. Tertullian is the 
first Christian writer who ventured on an explanation. He thinks it 
was a pain in the ear or head. Some think that the Apostle suffered 
from epileptic fits. The Greek commentators say the Apostle may 
be referring, in a figurative manner, to the opponents of his Apostolic 
authority. 

Professor Lias elaborates a theory which may have novelty for 
some of our readers : ' Our last alternative must be some defect of 
character, calculated to interfere with St. Paul's success as a minister 



PAULS THORN IN THE FLESH. 301 

of Jesus Christ. And the defect which falls in best with what we 
know of St. Paul is an infirmity of temper. There seems little doubt 
that he gave way to an outbreak of this kind when before the San- 
hedrin, though he set himself right at once by a prompt apology. A 
similar idea is suggested by St. Paul's unwillingness to go to Corinth 
until the points in dispute between him and a considerable portion of 
the Corinthian Church were in a fair way of being settled. In fact, 
his conduct was precisely the reverse of that of a person who felt 
himself endowed with great tact, persuasiveness, and command of 
temper. Such a man would trust little to messages and letters, much 
to his own presence and personal influence. St. Paul, on the con- 
trary, feared to visit Corinth until there was a reasonable prospect of 
avoiding all altercation. In fact, he could not trust himself there. 
He "feared that God would humble him among them." He desired 
above all things to avoid the necessity of " using sharpness," very 
possibly because he feared that when once compelled to assume a tone 
of severity, his language might exceed the bounds of Christian love. 
The supposition falls in with what we know of the Apostle before his 
conversion. It is confirmed by his stern language to Elymas the 
sorcerer, with which we may compare the much milder language used 
by St. Peter on a far more awful occasion. The quarrel between St. 
Paul and St. Barnabas makes the supposition infinitely more probable. 
The passage above cited from the Epistle to the Galatians may be 
interpreted of the deep personal affection which the Apostle felt he 
had inspired in spite of his occasional irritability of manner. The 
expression that he " desired to be present with them and to change 
his voice," would seem to point in the same direction. And if we 
add to these considerations the fact, which the experience of God's 
saints in all ages has conclusively established, of the difficulty of sub- 
duing an infirmity of temper, as well as the pain, remorse, and 
humiliation such an infirmity is wont to cause to those who groan 
under it, we may be inclined to believe that not the least probable 
hypothesis concerning the "thorn" or "stake" in the flesh, is that 
the loving heart of the Apostle bewailed as his sorest trial the mis- 
fortune that by impatience in word he had often wounded those for 
whom he would willingly have given his life.' 

Farrar summarises the arguments in favour of ophthalmia : ' We 
know that he was physically blinded by the glare of light which 
surrounded him when he saw the risen Lord. The whole circum- 
stances of that event the noonday journey under the fierce Syrian 
sun, the blaze of sun which outshone even that noonday brightness, 
and the blindness which followed it would have been most likely to 



302 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

leave his eyes inflamed and weak. His stay in the desert and in 
Damascus regions notorious for the prevalence of this disease 
would have tended to develop the mischief when it had once been 
set up, and though we are never told in so many words that the 
Apostle suffered from defective sight, there are yet so many undesigned 
coincidences of allusion all pointing in this direction, that we may 
regard it as an ascertained fact. Apart from the initial probability that 
eyes which had once been so seriously affected would be liable to 
subsequent attacks of disease, we have the following indications : 
(i) When speaking of his infirmity to the Galatians, St. Paul implies 
that it might well have rendered him an object of loathing ; and this 
is pre-eminently the case with acute ophthalmia. The most dis- 
tressing objects, next to the lepers, which the traveller will ever see 
in the East those who will most make him inclined to turn away his 
face with a shudder of pity and almost involuntary disgust are pre- 
cisely those who are the victims of this disease. (2) And this would 
give a deeper pathos and meaning to the Apostle's testimony that the 
Galatians, in the first flush of their Gospel joy, when they looked on 
the preacher of those good tidings as an angel of God, would, had it 
been possible, have dug out their eyes in order to place them at the 
sufferer's service. (3) The term, "a stake in the flesh," would be 
most appropriate to such a malady, because all who have, been attacked 
with it know that the image which it recalls most naturally is that of 
a sharp splinter run into the eye. (4) Moreover, it would be ex- 
tremely likely to cause epileptic or other symptoms, since in severe 
attacks it is often accompanied by cerebral disturbance. (5) In 
spite of the doubt which has been recently thrown on the commonly 
accepted meaning of the expression which St. Paul uses to the Gala- 
tians, "Ye see in what large letters I write to you with my own hand," 
it must at any rate be admitted that it suits well with the hypothesis 
of a condition which rendered it painful and difficult to write at all. 
That this was St. Paul's normal condition seems to result from his 
almost invariable practice of employing an amanuensis, and only 
adding in autograph the few last words of greeting or blessing, which 
were necessary for the identification of his letters in an age in which 
religious forgeries were by no means unknown. (6) It is obvious, 
too, that an ocular deformity, caused as this had been, might well be 
compared to the brand fixed by a master on his slave. (7) Lastly, 
there is no other reasonable explanation of the circumstance that, 
when St. Paul had uttered an indignant answer to the high priest, 
and had been rebuked for 'it, he at once frankly offered his apology 
by saying that " he had not recognised the speaker to have been the 



THE INFLUENCE OF THE MOON. 303 

high priest." Now, considering the position of the high priest as 
Nasi of the Sanhedrin, seated at the end of the hall, with the Ab 
Beth Din on one side of him, and the Chacham on the other, it is 
almost inconceivable that Paul should not have been aware of his 
rank if he had not suffered from defective sight. All that his blurred 
vision took in was a white figure, nor did he see this figure with suffi- 
cient clearness to be able to distinguish that the overbearing tyrant 
was no less a person than the high priest himself.' 

The Influence of the Moon. 

DEUTERONOMY xxxiii. 14 : ' Blessed of the Lord be His land, for the precious 
things put forth by the moon.' 

Question. Is there any scientific basis for the commonly received 
notion, that the moon can affect injuriously the bodies and the minds of 
men 1 } 

Answer. The idea is certainly sustained in tropical climates. 
The inhabitants of these countries are most careful in taking pre- 
cautionary measures before exposing themselves to its influence. 
Sleeping much in the open air, they are careful to cover well their 
heads and faces. It has been proved beyond a doubt that the moon 
smites as well as the sun, causing blindness for a time, and even dis- 
tortion of the features. 

In Montgomery Martin's * History of the British Colonies ' we 
have the following account of the influence of the moon : ' In con- 
sidering the climate of tropical countries, the influence of the moon 
seems to be entirely overlooked ; and surely, if the tides of the ocean 
are raised from their fathomless bed by lunar power, it is not too 
much to assert that the tides of the atmosphere are liable to a 
similar influence. This much is certain, that in the low lands of 
tropical climates no attentive observer of nature will fail to witness 
the power exercised by the moon over the seasons, and also on 
animal and vegetable nature. As regards the latter, it may be stated 
that there are thirteen springs and thirteen autumns in Demerara in 
the year ; for so many times does the sap of trees ascend to the 
branches, and descend to the roots. For example, the wallaba (a 
resinous tree, common in the Demerara woods, somewhat resembling 
mahogany), if cut down in the dark a few days before the new moon, 
is one of the most durable woods in the world for house-building, 
etc. ; in that state, attempt to split it, and with the utmost difficulty 
it will be riven in the most jagged, unequal manner that can be 
imagined. Cut down another wallaba, that grew within a few yards 



304 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

of the former, at full moon, and the tree can be easily split into the 
finest smooth shingles, of any desired thickness, or into staves for 
making casks ; but if in this state it be applied to house-building, it 
speedily decays. Again, bamboos, as thick as a man's arm, are 
sometimes used for paling, etc. ; if cut at the dark moon, they will 
endure for ten or twelve years ; if at full moon, they will be rotten in 
two or three years : thus it is with most, if not all, of the forest trees. 
Of the effects of the moon on animal life very many instances could 
be cited. I have seen in Africa the newly-littered young perish in a 
few hours at the mother's side, if exposed to the rays of the full 
moon ; fish become rapidly putrid ; and meat, if left exposed, in- 
curable or unpreservable by salt. The mariner, heedlessly sleeping 
on deck, becomes afflicted with nyctolopia, or " night-blindness," at 
times the face hideously swollen, if exposed during sleep to the 
moon's rays ; the maniac's paroxysms renewed with fearful vigour at 
the full and change ; and the cold, damp chill of the ague superven- 
ing on the ascendancy of this apparently mild yet powerful luminary. 
Let her influence over this earth be studied ; it is more powerful 
than is generally known.' 

The popular belief that the moon's rays will cause madness in any 
person who sleeps exposed to them has long been felt to be absurd ; 
and yet it has appeared to have its source in undoubted facts. Some 
deleterious influence is experienced by those who rashly court 
slumber in full moonshine, and probably there is no superstition to 
which the well-to-do pay more attention. Windows are often care- 
fully covered, to keep the moonbeams from entering sleeping-rooms. 
A gentleman living in India furnishes Nature with an explanation of 
this phenomenon, which is, at least, plausible. He says : ' It has 
often been observed that when the moon is full, or near its full time, 
there are rarely any clouds about. And if there be clouds before the 
full moon rises, they are soon dissipated ; and, therefore, a perfectly 
clear sky with a bright full moon is frequently observed. A clear 
sky admits of rapid radiation of heat from the surface of the earth, 
and any person exposed to such radiation is sure to be chilled by 
rapid loss of heat. There is reason to believe that under the cir- 
cumstances paralysis of one side of the face is sometimes likely to 
occur from chill, as one side of the face is more likely to be exposed 
to rapid radiation and consequent loss of its heat. This chill is 
more likely to occur when the sky is perfectly clear. I have often 
slept in the open air in India on a clear summer night, when there 
was no moon ; and, although the first part of the night may have 
been hot, yet toward two or three o'clock in the morning the chill 



THE INFLUENCE OF THE MOON. 305 

has been so great that I have often been awakened by an ache in my 
forehead, which I as often have counteracted by wrapping a hand- 
kerchief round my head and drawing the blanket over my face. As 
the chill is likely to be greatest on a very clear night, and the clearest 
nights are likely to be those on which there is a bright moonshine, it 
is very possible that neuralgia, paralysis, or other similar injury 
caused by sleeping in the open air, has been attributed to the moon, 
when the proximate cause may really have been the chill, and the 
moon only a remote cause, acting by dissipating the clouds and haze 
(if it do so), and leaving a perfectly clear sky for the play of radiation 
into space.' The Galaxy. 



SUB-SECTION III. 

DIFFICULTIES RELATED TO GEOLOGY, GEOGRAPHY, 
AND TOPOGRAPHY. 



Agreement of Mosaic Creation with Geology. 

GENESIS ii. 4 : 'These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth, when 
they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the heavens and the earth.' 

Question. How has the progress of geological science affected the 
Mosaic record? 

Answer. While the record has remained the same, the scientific 
points of view from which it is regarded have materially changed, 
and are continually changing. Geology at first fashioned an explana- 
tion of existing phenomena by imagining a long continued series of 
catastrophes. Now it is trying to re-read the story of the earth in the 
light of a theory of evolution. We are not called upon to endeavour 
to square Bible records with any scientific theory that may be 
fashionable in any age. We are required to find essential harmony 
between the broad, general facts of Bible statement, and the broad, 
general facts of scientific discovery. Such essential harmony has 
been shown over and over again by men who must be recognised as 
fully competent to deal with geological questions. 

Many of the efforts to make geological conclusions accord with 
Bible statements we cannot but regard as mischievous, because lay- 
ing upon the early narration a burden which it was never intended 
to bear, and was wholly unfitted to bear. The possible questions that 
may be asked are indeed all settled if we can answer them by saying, 

20 



306 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

that God gave these early chapters of Genesis to Moses as a direct 
and immediate revelation. But very few intelligent persons find 
themselves able to take this ground. It is not God's way of dealing 
with men thus to act directly. He uses agencies. It is not fitting 
that we should even think of placing limitations on the agencies God 
may use, and it may please Him to employ the legends of pre-historic 
times, as well as the written records of historic times. It is better 
that we should distinctly recognise the legendary character of the 
early chapters of Genesis, and see what we call ' history ' in its 
beginnings, and then only in its initial stages, in the records of 
Abraham. 

Legendary matter must of necessity be largely imaginative and 
poetical ; it cannot be strictly descriptive. And if we think closely, 
we shall be willing to admit that a description of the processes of 
creation is impossible in these scientific days, and must have been 
if we may so speak even more impossible in those unscientific days. 
Only certain broad features could be seized and exhibited : details of 
processes working through countless ages could find no fitting 
human language in which they could be clothed. It is poetry, not 
prose, that recounts such things as creation. And poetry utterly 
refuses to be imprisoned by scientific fact. Poetry sees things with 
a glamour on them. 

But what needs to be clearly seen, what comes out fully from the 
strife over the first chapters of our Bible, is this : Legendary matter 
can be made revelational of moral and religious truth ; and the 
moral purpose of these first chapters can be fully secured, whether 
modern science can or cannot fit its conclusions to the Bible state- 
ments. We are, indeed, lifted away from a merely scientific interest 
in these early world legends, when we can clearly see the moral 
purposes for which they are preserved. 

This point has been efficiently stated in the following passage : 
' The first chapter of Genesis is the introduction to a Book which is 
to contain the records of God's more direct dealings with man, the 
highest the distinctly unique creature which He was pleased 
to make. Unique, as a creature subject to all the natural laws by 
which he was surrounded, yet endowed with a marvellous power of 
independent will, which would enable him to mould, and modify, 
and control both those laws, and all other living creatures. It does 
not, therefore, consist of a really precise and definite account of the 
processes of creation ; but, in view of its main and high object, it 
contains a series of distinct and repeated affirmations of God's supreme 
relations to all forms of existence, in all their order, all their origin, 



MOSAIC CREATION AND GEOLOGY. 307 

all their growth, all their relations. It is designed to impress on us 
that the world was not created by chance, by self-generation, by 
impersonal powers of nature, or by many agents acting either in 
harmony or in antagonism. God is distinct from that He has made. 
God is the one primal source of all things. God's will is represented 
in all laws that rule. God's good pleasure shapes all ends. The 
proper religious object of this chapter is reached when it has strongly 
impressed on mind and heart the existence, independence, and 
personality of one Divine Being, the universality of His rule, the 
omnipotency of His power, and the eternal persistence of His 
relationship to the world He has created.' ' Age of Great 
Patriarchs,' p. 44. 

Some opinions on the relations of geological science to the 
narrative of the creation may be interesting, and also helpful to the 
formation of a sound judgment on this subject. 

Dr. Rainy says : * That this chapter is very different, both in what 
it says and in what it leaves unsaid, from what many persons think 
they might expect, in view of all that is known of geological eras and 
processes, may be granted.' 

Dr. Harold Browne writes : ' While we cannot say that we have in 
it a detailed scientific account, which may be tested at every point by 
the discoveries of geologists, we can safely affirm that the general out- 
line and order indicated are in perfect accordance with geological 
conclusions.' 

Dr. McCausland says : ' A correct reading of the Mosaic narra- 
tive, and a competent knowledge of geological facts, have made it 
plain that Scripture and science tell one and the same wondrous 
tale/ 

Dr. Pusey very pertinently remarks : * It would be well for geology 
to come to a result within itself before turning its results against 
revelation.' 

Dr. Geikie collects a number of early legends of creation, with a 
view to showing the superiority of those preserved for us in the 
Bible. And he points out the moral bearing of the Bible record : 
1 In language, the simplicity of which befits the remote antiquity in 
which it was uttered, it declares the absolute and eternal distinction 
between the creation and the Creator, and between the creature and 
Him who formed it.' ' The God of Moses stands in the strongest 
contrast with all conceptions of the Divine Being attained by unaided 
reason.' 

Professor W. Griffiths closes a chapter on the creation with these 
words : ' Science, when hand in hand with faith, does not demur to 

20 2 



3 o8 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

the first words of the Bible, and refuse to pass the portal of Revela- 
tion, but freely enters the new temple of Truth, to pay her homage 
at its shrine.' 

From the strictest orthodox standpoint, Dr. Pierson writes, in his 
recent work, ' Infallible Proofs ' : * Geology teaches a watery waste, 
whose dense vapours shut out light. Moses affirms that, at first, the 
earth was formless and void, and darkness was upon the face of the 
deep. Geology makes life to precede light, and the life develops 
beneath the deep. Moses presents the creative spirit as brooding 
over that great deep before God said, " Let light be." Geology 
makes the atmosphere to form an expanse by lifting watery vapours 
into clouds, and so separating the fountains of waters above from 
those below. Moses affirms the same. Geology tells us that 
continents next lifted themselves from beneath the great deep, and 
bore vegetation. Moses also declares that the dry land appeared, 
and brought forth grass, herb, and the tree, exactly correspondent to 
the three orders of primeval vegetation ! Geology then asserts that 
the heavens became cleared of cloud, and the sun and moon and 
stars appeared. Moses does not say that God created all these 
heavenly bodies on the fourth creative day, but that they then began 
to serve to divide day from night, and to become signs for seasons,, 
days, and years ! Geology then shows us sea-monsters, reptiles, and 
winged creatures. Moses likewise reveals the waters bringing forth 
moving and creeping creatures, and fowl flying in the expanse.. 
Geology unfolds next the race of quadruped mammals; and so- 
Moses makes cattle and beasts of the earth to follow, in the same 
order, and on the sixth day of creation. Geology brings man on the 
scene last of all, and so does Moses. Geology makes the first light 
and heat not solar, but chemical, or " cosmical." Moses makes light 
to precede the first appearance of the sun by the space of three 
creative days ! Look at the order of animal creation ! Geology and 
comparative anatomy combine to teach that the order of creation was 
from lower to higher. Fish, proportion of brain and spinal cord,. 
2 to i ; reptiles, 2^ to i ; birds, 3 to i ; mammals, 4 to i ; man, 33. 
to i. Now this is exactly the order of Moses.' 

It would be difficult to find sentences richer in practical wisdom, 
or more needing to be spoken over and over again, than the follow- 
ing, penned by Dean Payne Smith : l The unwise disputes between 
science and theology almost always arise from scientific men crying 
aloud that some new theory just hatched is a dis-proof of the super- 
natural, and from theologians debating each new theory on the 
ground of Scriptural exposition. It is but just to the author of 



MOSAIC CREATION AND GEOLOGY. 309 

Evolution to say that he never made this mistake. Really, every 
scientific hypothesis must be proved or disproved on the ground of 
science alone ; but when the few survivors of the very many theories 
which scientific men suggest have attained to the rank of scientific 
/erities, then at last the necessity arises of comparing them with 
Holy Scripture ; for we could not believe it to be the Word of God 
if it contradicted the Book of Nature, which also comes from Him. 
Gk>d is truth, and His revealed Word must be true.' 

A recent article by Mr. W. E. Gladstone, on the Mosaic account 
3f the creation, concludes with the following words, after a careful 
dealing with some of the best known c contradictionist ' criticisms : 
We may justly render our thanks to Dana, Guyot, Dawson, Stokes, 
md other scientific authorities, who seem to find no cause for 
supporting the broad theory of contradiction. For myself, I cannot 
Dut at present remain before and above all things impressed with the 
profound and marvellous wisdom which has guided the human 
nstrument, whether it were pen or tongue, which was first commis- 
doned from on high to hand onwards for our admiration and 
nstmction this wonderful, this unparalleled relation. And I submit 
o my readers that my words were not wholly idle words when, with- 
>ut presuming to lay down any universal and inflexible proposition, 
md without questioning any single contention of persons specially 
qualified, I said that the true question was whether the words of the 
Vtosaic writer, taken as a whole, do not stand, according to our 
>resent knowledge, in such a relation to the facts of nature as to 
varrant and require thus far the conclusion that the Ordainer of 
Mature, and the Giver or Guide of the creation story, are one and 
he same.' 

Note. Our readers may be glad to have one early legend of 
xeation, with which to compare and contrast the Bible record. We 
;ive the Babylonian, as preserved by Berosus, who lived B.C. 260 : 
In the beginning all was darkness and water, and therein were 
;enerated monstrous animals of strange and peculiar form. There 
/ere men with two wings, and some even with four, and two faces ; 
nd others with, two heads, a man's and a woman's, on one body ; 
nd there were men with the heads and horns of goats, and men with 
loofs like horses, and some with the upper parts of a man joined to. 
he lower parts of a horse, like centaurs ; and there were bulls with 
iuman heads, dogs with four bodies and with fishes' tails, and horses 
/ith dogs' heads, creatures with heads and bodies of horses, but with 
ails of fish, and other animals mixing the forms of various beasts. 



3 io HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

Moreover, there were monstrous fish and reptiles and serpents, and 
divers other creatures which had borrowed something from each 
other's shapes ; of all which the likenesses are still preserved in the 
temple of Belus. A woman ruled them all, by name Omorka, which 
is in Chaldee Thalatth, and in Greek Thalassa (the sea). Then 
Belus appeared, and split the woman in twain ; and of the one half 
of her he made the heaven, and of the other half the earth ; and the 
beasts that were in her he caused to perish. And he split the dark- 
ness, and divided the heaven and the earth asunder, and put the 
world in order ; and the animals that could not bear the light 
perished. Belus, upon this, seeing the earth was desolate, yet teeming 
with productive power, commanded one of the gods to cut off his 
head, and to mix the blood which flowed forth with earth, and form 
men therewith, and beasts that could bear the light. So man was 
made, and was intelligent, being a partaker of the divine wisdom. 
Likewise Belus made the stars, and the sun and moon, and the five 
planets.' 

Mahanaim. 

GENESIS xxxii. 2 : ' And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God's host : 
and he called the name of that place Mahanaim.' 

Question. Is it possible to decide in favour of either of the sug- 
gested places which have been identified as Mahanaim ? 

Answer. It must be borne in mind that the district lying east 
of Jordan is much less known than that on the west, and it has been 
subject to even greater changes. Moreover, we can never be quite 
sure that a name has not been applied to more than one place in the 
course of ages. In this case a tradition of Jacob's time may have 
lingered, and given a name to a city subsequently built in the neigh- 
bourhood, but not at the precise spot, of Jacob's adventure. There 
was no town in Jacob's day, and the name was naturally suggested to 
him when God's host, or camp, met, and seemed to join his. The 
term * Mahanaim ' means 'two hosts, or camps.' 

It is only possible, in this handbook, to deal with a few specimen 
difficulties connected with the identification of sites, and as this is 
quite a representative case, the summary of the results of recent 
exploration and inquiry, as given by Harper, will be suggestive. 
' Laban departs. Then the angels of God meet Jacob, who calls the 
place Mahanaim (the two hosts). The Septuagint says, where Israel 
" saw the camp of God encamped." Many have been the attempts 
to identify this place. Canon Tristram thinks he has found the 
place in Birket Mahneh, where there are five fine ponds " Birket " 



M AH AN AIM. 311 

and some ruins. Dr. Merrill, of the American Survey, does not 
accept this place. Mr. Laurence Oliphant thinks, after an examina- 
tion of the country, that Canon Tristram is more likely to be right 
than Dr. Merrill ; while Major Conder says the site is unsettled. He 
gives many reasons. Jacob was going to Edom to meet Esau (Gen. 
xxxii. 3). He had sent messengers, and they had returned, hearing 
that Esau was coming with 400 men. Jacob, afraid, divides his 
party, passes his wife Leah and flocks over the ford of Jabbok, while 
he remains on the other side. Then there is that wonderful wrestling 
with the angel, and Jacob calls the place Peniel, which means " face," 
or " appearing " of God. This " Peniel " would seem to have been a 
ridge, for Jacob passed over it as the sun rose ; and Conder suggests 
that the high summit of the hill, now called Jebel Osh'a, is the place. 
In Murray's map a valley called Faneh is marked. If this is correct 
the Arabic word would be a good translation of the Hebrew, Penuel. 
Jacob, no doubt, was going on the old pilgrim road to the north. 
And we find from Josh. xiii. 26 that Mahanaim is noted as opposite 
the border of Debir "the edge of the ridge." Mahanaim was near 
a wood, for Absalom was killed there. The slopes of Mount Gilead 
are clothed with woods of fine oak.' (The ' wood ' of Absalom's 
time is better rendered ' waar,' or * thicket.') 

On a later page of his work, Harper favours the identification 
suggested by Dr. Merrill, who says that the account given of the 
two messengers, sent by Joab to David, in the time of Absalom, gives 
a clue to the ground. ' Ahimaaz wishes to run, Joab declines to trust 
him, but selects a stranger, a Cushite, to run, but afterwards allows 
Ahimaaz to go, but says he will get no reward, implying that he 
cannot possibly come in first ; but we are told Ahimaaz went " by the 
way of the plain." Doubtless he was familiar with the country, and 
took the easiest route, while the stranger might take the direct line, 
and yet, having to cross wadies and broken ground, his speed would 
be impeded. Most travellers have suggested Mahneh, fourteen miles 
south-east of Bethshan. These ruins cover about a fourth of a mile 
in extent, but do not indicate any great age or importance, and no 
one could " run by the way of the plain" to reach it. There is no 
room in Wady Mahneh for troops to manoeuvre by " thousands," 
and the distance at which the runners were discovered by the watch- 
men is not applicable to Mahneh. There does not exist for many 
miles in any direction from Mahneh a region corresponding to a field 
or a great plain ; but six miles north of the Zerka, Wady Ajlun is 
found. It has three names. There is a large ruin called Fakaris at 
the mouth of the wady. Here is an important valley, abundance of 



312 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

water, and the ruins of an important city. Three miles further north, 
passing about midway a smaller ruin, mostly buried, Wady Suleikhat 
is reached ; this wady bears the name of El Kirbeh in its upper 
course. Here water is abundant, and at the mouth of the wady are 
the ruins of a large city lying on both sides of the stream. This is 
by far the largest ruin in the Jordan Valley east of the river. Khurbet 
Suleikhat is some 300 feet above the plain, and among the foothills 
in such a way that it overlooks the valley, while the road running 
north and south along the valley passes nearly a mile to the west of 
it. The surrounding country is most fertile, and hence we should 
naturally expect that the principal city of the valley would be placed 
here. A watchman from a tower could see to the north for a con- 
siderable distance, also clear across the valley to the west, and down 
the valley to the south, a long stretch, nearly or quite to the point 
where the Zerka and Jordan unite at the foot of Kurn Surtubeh. In 
addition to these facts, if we consider that the town is double (Maha- 
naim means " two camps "), that these ruins lie on two sides of a 
stream, their size, the abundance of good water, the fertile region 
round about it, it would seem that here the principality of East Jordan 
in David's time probably stood.' 

Names for Hermon. 

DEUTERONOMY iii. 9 : Which Hermon the Sidonians call Sirion ; and the 
Amorites call it Shenir.' 

Difficulty. This paragraph indicates later knowledge than belongs 
to the Israelites in the time of Moses, and must be the insertion of a 
later editor. 

Explanation. It must be admitted that no particular reason 
appears for the insertion of this parenthesis. Those for whom Moses 
wrote need not have been interested in the various names for Hermon, 
and they had no such connection with Sidon as to make Sidonian 
opinion at all important. But if we may suppose that the Book of 
Deuteronomy was re-edited, and received its present form in the 
times of Ezra, we can well understand how such an explanatory para- 
graph came to be inserted, for in those days the earlier name 
Hermon had probably been dropped, and the range was generally 
known as Sirion or Shenir. 

If Moses knew the Sidonian name, it must have been through the 
constant traffic which had gone on from the most ancient times 
between Sidon and Egypt. 'Syria was repeatedly traversed in all 
directions by the Egyptian armies from the accession of the eighteenth 



NAMES FOR HERMON. 313 

dynasty downwards. The transcription of Semitic words in the 
papyri of the nineteenth dynasty is remarkably complete.' 

Dean Stanley gives the meanings of the various names applied to 
this mountain range. ' Rising with its gray snow-capped cone to a 
height of about 9,500 feet, it is visible from most parts of the Promised 
Land, and even from the depths of the Jordan valley and the shores 
of the Dead Sea. Hence it was " Sion," " the upraised ;" or " Her- 
mon," "the lofty peak;" or " Shenir," and "Sirion," the glittering 
" breastplate " of ice ; or above all " Lebanon," the " Mont Blanc " 
of Palestine ; the " White Mountain " of ancient times ; the mountain 
of the " Old White-headed Man " (Jebel es Sheykh) ; or "the moun- 
tain of ice " (Jebel eth Tilj), of modern times.' 

The Targums give Shenir as meaning 'the rock of snow;' and 
Gesenius translates Sirion as 'glittering like a breastplate.' 

Dr. Geikie gives a different rendering to the names. ' We were 
now under the very top of Hermon " the Lofty Height " famous 
in Scripture, known as Jebel esh Sheikh "the Mountain of the 
White-haired Old Man" among the populations of to-day. . . . 
The Sidonians knew it as Sirion, the Amorites as Senir both mean- 
ing "The Banner," a fitting name for the great white standard it 
raises aloft over the whole land. The mass of its gigantic bulk is of 
the age of the Middle Chalk, as shown both by the prevailing rock 
and by its fossil fish and shells, some of which I myself got, thousands 
of feet above the sea-level.' 

Harper gives the meaning of the word Shenir as ' the Shining.' 

The fact that the Book of Deuteronomy, in the form in which we 
now have it, represents the work of an editor living in the times of 
the Restoration, is now recognised by all competent scholars ; but 
there are very different opinions as to the amount of original Mosaic 
matter that was placed at his command. Explanatory parentheses to 
bring a work up to date are the natural additions of editors. 



The Extent of the Flood. 

GENESIS vi. 13 : ' And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before 
me ; for the earth is filled with violence through them ; and, behold, I will destroy 
them with the earth.' 

Difficulty. The idea of the flood covering the whole earth is given 
up by all well-instructed persons, but it is not easy to re-read the Bible 
records in the light of modern ideas and knowledge. 

Explanation. It may be well to give first the latest dealing 
with this difficulty from the strictly orthodox standpoint. Dr. A. T. 



314 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

Pierson, in his book on the Evidences of Christianity, entitled ' Many 
Infallible Proofs,' says: 'The Deluge, as recorded in the days of 
Noah, has been thought to be irreconcilable with modern science. 
The grand point where objections centre is that of the universal 
character of the flood. As the human race then occupied but a small 
part of the globe, to submerge the whole, so that even the loftiest 
mountains should be more than covered, seems a needless waste of 
Divine energy, especially as it may well be doubted whether the entire 
atmosphere, condensed into rain, would suffice to lift the seas to such 
a height ; and there are believed to be many evidences, in certain 
parts of the earth, that no universal flood has prevailed within the 
last 6,000 years. 

' To these objections it is only necessary to reply that the moment 
the Bible record is interpreted with reference to the inhabited world, 
all difficulties vanish. Such phrases as " the whole earth," " under 
the whole heaven," etc., are frequently used in Scripture of so much 
of the earth as was peopled ; or even of Palestine, and the lands lying 
about it. Terms of a universal character are to be interpreted not 
literally, but by the design and end of the writer. When we are told 
that " all countries came into Egypt to buy corn," what do we under- 
stand ? Are we to suppose that, if there were inhabitants in Britain, 
they journeyed to Egypt for grain ? It would take about as much 
time, in those days, to get there and back, as it would to secure a 
new harvest. But if we understand that Egypt became a granary-^ a 
house of bread to all the district over which the famine prevailed, 
the record is plain. 

'Now, in the account of the Deluge, Moses is writing of God's 
awful judgment upon the sin of the race. His judgment fell upon 
the earth for man's sake, and only so much of the earth as was the 
scene of man's sin was necessarily concerned. If, then, we under- 
stand the " whole earth " to refer to the entire inhabited surface, the 
flood is still relatively universal, i.e., universal as to mankind, and the 
usage of similar terms in other parts of Scripture justifies such inter- 
pretation.' 

We ought to inquire carefully into the ideas concerning the shape 
of the earth, and the relations of the sky to the earth, in ancient 
times, and so try to think what ideas of the universality of the flood 
would come to those for whom Moses immediately wrote. A uni- 
versal flood is so inconceivable to us, because we know that the earth 
is virtually round ; but the ancients thought of it as an extensive and 
virtually flat plain, with only mountains, like mounds, making a rough 
surface ; and the sky was a solid dome rising from the edge of the 



THE EXTENT OF THE FLOOD. 315 

plain. In fact, the earth and sky were like a dish with its cover, only 
the cover was conceived as fastened to the edges of the dish. Now 
a person with this notion in his mind need not stumble at the idea of 
a universal flood, covering the very tops of the hills. It is easy to 
conceive of the water rising the necessary height within the limits of 
the cover. We can think of many difficulties in the way of such an 
explanation, but they are difficulties which would not be suggested to 
an ancient mind. The limited scale of the flood is immediately 
suggested when a truer view of the shape of the earth, and of the 
relation of the sky to it, is taught. It can then be shown that the 
Divine purpose was fully accomplished by a flood which, though 
local, was effective to the removal of the race that had sinned. 

There is a question arising when the local character of the Flood 
is admitted, which as yet has received very little attention. Perhaps 
it is one that never can be solved, and must be treated as belonging 
to the domain of pure speculation. What race of men is it that we 
are to understand was swept away by the Flood ? There were two 
distinct human races the Sethite and the Cainite. Now the Cainite 
race is removed from the Bible record after a very brief allusion to it, 
and the Bible is wholly concerned with the Sethite race. We are, 
indeed, told that the ' sons of God ' married the ' daughters of men,' 
which probably means, that the men of the Sethite race took wives 
from the women of the Cainite race ; and it appears that the people 
whose violence and iniquity aroused the Divine wrath, and called for 
the Divine judgment, were not the original Cainites, but the children 
of these mixed marriages. It is an assumption usually made that 
the Cainites were destroyed with the Sethites, and that only the 
Sethites re-peopled the earth after the Flood. But there is no real 
ground for any such assumption, and it would be equally reasonable 
to assume that the Cainite race was untouched by the Flood, which 
bore relation only to the Sethites. This subject may be referred to 
again in its ethnological bearings. If the continuance of a Cainite 
race can be admitted, the threefold original of all existing humanity, 
through Noah's sons, will have to be reconsidered. 

This we may take as definitely settled no competent scholar 
would for a moment attempt to argue the absolute universality of the 
Flood. 

Attempts have been made to explain the natural agencies which 
might have been used in order to produce a vast and overwhelming 
local flood. Dr. Geikie says: 'A rise of 220 feet in the volcanic 
region of the Bosphorus would effect startling results, for it needs no 
more than that to spread an inland fresh-water ocean from the plains 



316 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

of the Lower Danube and Southern Russia over the areas of the 
Black, the Caspian, and the Aral Seas, with their neighbouring 
steppes, far and near to create, in fact, a second Mediterranean. 
With the surface of the earth rising and sinking by steady oscillation 
in so many regions even now, who can say that the tradition is wrong 
which ascribes the drainage of this vast region to a volcanic commo- 
tion rending open the Bosphorus about 1,500 years before Christ, 
and causing the terrible catastrophe which antiquity handed down in 
the legend of Deucalion's flood the flood, it may be, of Genesis. 
See also ' Hours with the Bible,' vol. i., pp. 210-219. 

Blaikie says : * It is a question among theologians and men of 
science, whether the Flood was absolutely universal, or whether it 
was universal only in the sense of extending over all the part of the 
world that was then inhabited. We do not here enter into this con- 
troversy ; but we may notice the remarkable fact, that the district 
lying to the east of Ararat, where the ark rested, bears traces of 
having at one time been under water. It is a peculiarly depressed 
region, lying lower than the districts around, and thus affording 
peculiar facilities for such a submersion. The level of the Caspian 
is 83 feet below that of the Black Sea ; and vast plains white with 
salt, and charged with sea-shells, show that at no distant period the 
Caspian was much more extensive than now. From Herodotus, and 
other ancient writers, it appears that at one time the Sea of Azoff (the 
Palus Mceotis of the ancients) was nearly equal in extent to the Black 
Sea.' 

Heywood W. Guion, of North Carolina, has suggested a theory of 
the Deluge, which both harmonizes all the discoveries of science 
with the record in Genesis, and may yet displace all previous concep- 
tions of the subject. He takes literally the statement of St. Peter, 
' The world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.' 
In Genesis we read, ' Let the waters under the heaven be gathered 
together unto one place, and let the dry land appear.' In both 
passages there is no hint of more than one continent or more than 
one sea. The dry land or earth seems to be by itself in one grand 
elevation above sea-level, and the waters gathered in one place. This 
would imply, as every scientist knows, certain peculiar conditions. 
This solitary continent, rising in one mass from the midst of one sea 
that surrounds it, would present no great inequalities of surface, 
though there might be elevations that, compared with the rest, would 
be hills, or even mountains ; there would be a great uniformity of 
climate and temperature, no rains or clouds, but heavy mists con- 
stantly keeping the earth moist; and consequently vast vegetable 



THE EXTENT OF THE FLOOD. 317 

growths, very luxuriant and abundant, making animal food unneces- 
sary either for man or beast there would be a paradise of verdure, 
and one perennial spring. This, Mr. Guion holds, was the case. 
At the time of the Deluge, this huge dome, that rose out of the water, 
was shattered by volcanic explosions and a great earthquake, and its 
grand roof fell in and became the bed of what is now the Pacific 
Ocean, while its shattered and irregular ruin was tilted up into the 
great mountain ranges that line the eastern boundary of the Pacific ; 
and the bed of this original ocean was lifted into the continents of 
our eastern and western hemispheres, while the sea rushed into the 
new bed formed by the submersion of the original continent. This 
would give us, in the new order of things, great mountain ranges, with 
marked inequalities of climate and temperature and all the pheno- 
mena of the changing seasons, winds, clouds, storms of rain and 
snow, and consequently the first rainbow. Animals inhabiting barren 
districts would be driven to devour animals weaker than they, and 
animal food would become necessary to man. This theory makes 
the whole original world to be submerged, and all the high hills 
covered. The gigantic animals of that primeval continent engulphed 
in the foaming waters, and afterwards buried beneath the superficial 
mass of shifting soil, would furnish the remarkable remains found in 
so many places, showing that the creatures they represent were over- 
taken in some universal catastrophe. 

For the Hindoo, Chaldaean, and Phrygaean accounts, or legends of 
the Flood, see ' Biblical Things not Generally Known/ Nos. 5, 264, 

5 6 4- 

There is an important principle of explanation of which we need to 
be reminded. A difficulty ought to be regarded as removed if a 
solution can be found that is efficient and reasonable, though it may 
not in actual fact be the true solution. Science vindicates the 
narrative of Scripture when it shows how an extensive, and, for the 
then inhabited world, virtually universal flood could have been 
caused. 

The Cities of Argob. 

DEUTERONOMY iii. 4, 5 : ' And we took all his cities at that time, there was 
not a city which we took not from them, threescore cities, all the region of Argob, 
the kingdom of Ogin Bashan. All these cities were fenced with high walls, gates, 
and bars ; besides un walled towns a great many.' 

Difficulty. Some of the descriptions of the buildings of this dis- 
trict seem to be strangely exaggerated and extravagant. 

Explanation. We may often be led into error when testing the 
descriptions given by travellers by our own limited associations and 



3 i8 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

knowledge. The days of extravagant accounts of travelling 
experiences are long since past ; and now anything reported by one 
traveller is soon supported or denied by another. And, on the 
whole, the statements made concerning the stone houses of Bashan 
are found to be true, with due allowance for sensational styles of 
writing. 

The careful observations of members of the Palestine Survey 
parties, and such travellers as Schumacher and Merrill, have been 
gathered together in Harper's late work, ' The Bible and Modern 
Discoveries.' ' This region in the Bible is called " Argob," " a heap 
of stones." It would be difficult to mention a spot in civilized lands 
which could be compared to this ancient region in regard to its wild 
and savage aspect. It is one great sea of lava. The lava-bed proper 
embraces about 350 square miles ; its average height above the 
surrounding plain is perhaps twenty feet; but it sends out black 
promontories of rock into the surrounding plain. There are few 
openings into the interior. Roads had to be excavated to the towns 
situated in Argob (now called Lejjah, "a place of refuge"). The 
surface of this " Argob " is almost black, and has the appearance of 
the sea when it is in motion beneath *a dark, cloudy sky ; but this sea 
of lava is motionless, its great waves are petrified. In cooling, the 
lava cracked and split, so there are great fissures and chasms which 
cannot be crossed. Often this lava-bed is broken into hillocks, and 
between them, and also in the rolling plains, are many intervals 
of soil, which is of amazing fertility. The country is full of extinct 
craters, too many to number. The whole lava region embraces 
several thousand square miles, extending to the Hauran mountains. 
The region is not waterless. In many places are copious living 
fountains, with abundant water, cool and sweet. Ruins of towns 
abound. The Arabs say that in the Hauran, which includes Argob, 
there are quite a thousand. The Bible especially mentions one 
place, Edrei, which would seem to have been the capital town of Og. 
This place has been identified and visited by a few travellers. Its 
present name is Ed-Dera'ah. It is a subterranean city. There is a 
small court, 26 feet long, 8 feet 3 inches wide, with steps leading 
down into it, which has been built as an approach to the actual 
entrance of the caves. Then come large basaltic slabs, then a 
passage, 20 feet long, 4 feet wide, which slopes down to a large room, 
which is shut off by a stone door ; so this underground city could be 
guarded. Columns 10 feet high support the roof of the chamber into 
which you now enter ; these columns are of later period, but there are 
other supports built out of the basaltic rock. Then come dark and 



THE CITIES OF ARGOB. 319 

winding passages a broad street, which had dwellings on both sides 
of it, whose height and width left nothing to be desired. The 
temperature was mild, no difficulty in breathing ; several cross streets, 
with holes in the ceiling for air ; a market-place, a broad street with 
numerous shops in the walls; then into a side street, and a great 
hall with a ceiling of a single slab of jasper, perfectly smooth, and of 
immense size. Air-holes are frequent, going up to the surface of the 
ground about 60 feet. Cisterns are frequent in the floors. Tunnels 
partly blocked, too small for anyone now to creep through, are found.' 

* In 1874 the president of Queen's College, Belfast, found a 
curious old city about two miles in circuit, the buildings of black 
basalt. Some of the ruins were inhabited, but they were chiefly 
buried. The ancient houses were cave-like, of massive walls, of 
roughly-hewn blocks of basalt ; stone doors of the same material, 
and roofs of long slabs closely laid together. Most of the houses 
were originally above ground. Others were excavated out of the 
solid rocks.' 

The Speaker's Commentary thinks the threescore cities of Argob 
are identical with the Bashan-havoth-jair, i.e., cities of Jair, in 
Bashan, of verse 14, and with the 'towns of Jair,' in Bashan, of the 
same number in Josh. xiii. 30; i Kings iv. 13; and i Chron. xi. 23. 
' The Hebrew word rendered " region " means literally rope, or cable ; 
and though undoubtedly used elsewhere in a general topographical 
sense for portion, or district, has a special propriety in reference to 
Argob. This name means stone-heap, and is paraphrased by the 
Targums " Trachonitis," or " the rough country ;" both titles, like the 
modern Lejah (or Lejjah), designating, with the wonted vigour of 
Hebrew topographical terms, the more striking features of the 
district. The Argob is described as an island of black basaltic rock, 
oval in form, measuring 60 miles by 20, rising abruptly to the height 
of from 20 to 30 feet from the surrounding plains of Bashan. Its 
borders are compared to a rugged shore-line, hence its description as 
the " girdle of the stony country " would seem peculiarly appro- 
priate.' 

It hardly seems possible that travellers can exaggerate in their 
descriptions of so strange, so unique, and so wonderful a district. 



3 2o HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 



Identification of Ur. 

GENESIS xi. 28 : * And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his 
nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees.' 

Question. Have recent investigations helped to fix , with reason- 
able certaitity, the situation of Ur ? 

Answer. Though the identification with Orfa, the Edessa of the 
Greeks, well known in Christian times as the capital of Abgarus, its 
first Christian king, is not absolutely disproved, it is now almost 
universally abandoned. This Orfa was never included within the 
Chaldaean boundaries. There can be no reasonable doubt that Ur is 
identical with Mugheir, on the right bank of the Euphrates, some 
6 miles back from the river. The ruins are 40 miles from Warka, 90 
miles from Niffer, 150 miles from Babylon. 

Harper says : ' " Ur of the Chaldees " has been found, the ruins of 
its temples excavated ; some of its engraved gems may be seen in the 
British Museum. The place is now called Mugheir, on the western 
side of the Euphrates, on the border of the desert west of Erech 
low down near the Persian Gulf, and not the Ur of most Biblical 
maps, near Haran. The name " Ur " is Semitic for Accadian eri 
"city." The worship of Ur was that of the moon god. Abram's 
original name is found on an early Babylonian contract-tablet, 
written Abu-ramu, or Abram, "the exalted father." Haran, the place 
to which Terah emigrated, was the frontier town of Babylonia, com- 
manding both the roads and the fords of the Euphrates. The word 
Haran means " road." ' 

Professor Sayce says : * It is probable that Ur had passed into the 
hands of the Semitic " Casdim " before the age of Abraham ; at all 
events, it had long been the resort of Semitic traders, who had ceased 
to lead the roving life of their ancestors in the Arabian desert.' 

An article in * Biblical Things not Generally Known ' collects 
some further information, chiefly from Professor Rawlinson : ' The 
excavations conducted at Ur have brought to light the name of 
Urukh, which seems to have been borne by a very ancient king of that 
region. The basement platforms of all the most ancient buildings all 
through the entire region were built by this king, who calls himself in 
the inscriptions on the bricks King Ur, and also King of Accad. 
Professor Rawlinson considers that he was the immediate successor 
of Nimrod, or, at least, the oldest king after the great hunter of 
whose works any fragments at present remain. His bricks are of a 
rude and coarse make, and the inscriptions are marked by the most 



THE SALT SEA AND THE SITE OF SODOM. 321 

primitive simplicity. His substitute for lime and mortar was either 
wet mud or bitumen, and the bricks are, for the most part, ill-set. 
The language of the inscriptions belongs to the Hamitic class, and 
on one of the bricks occurs the inscription : " Urukh, King of Ur, he 
is the builder of the temple of the moon-god." It is chiefly as a 
builder of enormous structures that Urukh is known ; it is calculated 
that he used up no less than 30,000,000 square bricks in the construc- 
tion of one building alone. . . . His erections are carefully placed 
with the angles facing the four cardinal points of the compass, and 
they were dedicated to the sun or moon, to Belus, Bel, Nimrod, 
or Beltis. Rawlinson places the date of Urukh's reign in the time of 
Terah, the father of Abraham.' 

Does the Salt Sea cover the Site of Sodom ? 

GENESIS xix. 25 : ' And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the 
inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.' 

Difficulty. The geological formation of the district does not admit 
of our seeking for lost Sodom beneath any portion of the present Dead 
Sea. 

Explanation. There can be no doubt that the Dead Sea 
occupied its present position, to its full extent, long ages before the 
time of Abraham. But the level of its waters must have varied 
greatly at different times. 

Sir J. W. Dawson, who writes on the * Physical Features of 
Egypt and Syria,' gives the results of careful observation of the 
district : ' Standing on the beach we see before us the placid waters 
of this strange lake, blue and clear, but, owing to their great density, 
having a heavy and oily aspect. The shore on either side is formed 
of bare but brightly-tinted cliffs, running out in a succession of 
rugged points into the sea, and capped by grassy peaks and table- 
lands. But flanking these original margins we see successive flats 
and terraces of gray marly beds. These are the old deposits of the 
sea when it was larger than at present, and among them we find 
gravel layers marking beaches similar to the existing margin, but at 
higher levels. The lowest of these terraces is about 30 feet above the 
sea. A second attains an elevation of 100 feet, and others have 
been traced as high as 1,400 feet. ... I may state that the deposits 
at the north end of the Dead Sea are evidently similar in kind and 
origin, though different in degree, from those which in Jebel Usdum, 
at the south end of the sea, rise to the height of 400 feet, and 
contain thick beds of rock-salt, and gypsum. At the north end, 

21 



322 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

where the principal supply of fresh water is poured in, and the 
evaporation is less, the deposition of salt is always likely to have 
been inferior to that at the southern end, south of the Lisan 
peninsula, which may always have represented a bar or shallow in the 
lake.' 

The idea that the cities occupied positions south of the Lisan 
peninsula, and were submerged by volcanic action, has no scientific 
basis. It is no more than an imaginative effort to explain the entire 
removal of all trace of these ancient places. 

SirJ. W. Dawson gives convincing proof that the cities occupied 
what is now known as the ' Plain of Jordan,' to the north of the 
Dead Sea. He says : ' It may be affirmed, in the first place, that 
Sodom and its companion cities were not, as held by later tradition, 
at the south end of the sea, but at its northern end, and that this 
must, at the time, have occupied, approximately at least, its present 
position. This appears from the name "Cities of the Plain," or 
Ciccar, that is, of the Jordan valley, or the lower end of it. It is also 
stated that Abraham and Lot could see this plain from the high 
ground between Bethel and Hai, whence only the northern end of 
the Dead Sea is visible. Abraham could not see the cities from 
Mamre, but he saw their smoke ascending. The most convincing 
geographical note, however, is that in Genesis xiv., which describes 
the invasion of Canaan by the five eastern kings in the time of 
Abraham. They are said to have come down on the east side of the 
Dead Sea, to have defeated the Hivites and Amalekites on the south, 
and then to have come up by way of Engedi, on the west side of the 
sea, and to have fallen on the Sodomites and their allies from the 
south-west. Thus the Book of Genesis, from which alone we have 
any contemporary account of these cities, fixes their position. 

The Speaker's Commentary seems to think that much may be said 
in favour of the view that the Vale of Siddim corresponds with the 
southern bay of the Dead Sea. It admits, however, that there is no 
Scriptural authority for saying that Sodom and the other guilty cities 
were immersed in the sea ; and that the arguments in favour of the 
northern site are very strong, and presented with great ability. 
Harper has gathered up the results of the Palestine Exploration 
Survey, and these distinctly favour the northern site, which is also 
advocated by Tristram and Merrill. 

Harper's passage may suffice in support of the views already given 
from Dawson : ' We must now examine the position " of the cities of 
the plain," and see if the commonly-accepted notion is true, that the 
Dead (or Salt) Sea covers their sites. Lot, standing on the Bethel 



THE SALT SEA AND THE SITE OF SODOM. 323 

hill, saw " the Valley of the Jordan." From no hill there, except one 
called by the Arabs " the Hill of Stones," can any view of the Jordan 
Valley or Dead Sea be seen ; and what can there be seen is the 
northern end of the Dead Sea, the Jordan Valley, and the river 
running like a blue thread through the green plain. The hills of 
Engedi shut out completely all view of the southern end of the sea. 
I have wandered over all the Bethel hills, and tested this question. 
. . . Again, look at Abraham at Mamre, not 20 miles off; he hears 
nothing, sees nothing, though he is full of anxiety, till, early in the 
morning, Abraham got up to the place where he stood before the 
Lord, and he looks towards Sodom and Gomorrah, and sees the 
smoke. He had heard nothing, felt nothing, before. Had it been, 
as some say, an earthquake, why, Palestine would have shaken to its 
centre to make that deep depression. Geology proves as, in fact, 
anyone can see that the deep depression of the valley and the Dead 
Sea must have existed from prehistoric times, when in long ages past 
the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea were united through the Wady 
Arabah, and the whole plain was an inland sea. But we do not rest 
on these proofs alone. In Deut. xxix. 23 it is written : " And the 
whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that it is not 
sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow 
of Sodom, and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, which the Lord 
overthrew in His anger, and in His wrath." Nothing here about 
a sea covering the sites ! And again, Deut. xxxii. 32 : " For their 
vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah ; their 
grapes are the grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter." And 
St. Peter (2nd epistle ii. 6), speaking of the destruction of Sodom 
and Gomorrah by fire, remarks: "Turning the cities into ashes" 
Poets may write of 

"That bituminous lake where Sodom flamed," 

but many things of Milton have been accepted as Bible truths with 
as little foundation in fact.' 

A passage in Gen. xiv. 3, ' All these joined together in the Vale of 
Siddim (the same is the Salt Sea),' is the only Bible support to the 
southern identification ; and it is at once evident that this passage is 
fully satisfied if we read it * (the same is the Salt Sea district).' 



21 2 



3 2 4 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 



The River of Egypt. 

GENESIS xv. 18 : 'In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, 
saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the 
great river, the river Euphrates.' 

Question. Can the identification of this river with Wddy el 
Arish be confidently maintained ? 

Answer. The term 'River of Egypt' naturally suggests the 
Nile, but it is quite certain that there never was any sense in which 
the territory of Palestine could be said to have the Nile for its southern 
boundary. 

Harper collects some interesting descriptions of the river, or river- 
bed, that must be meant, first premising that the word rendered 
1 river ' is probably ' brook,' or ' torrent-bed ' (see 2 Kings xxiv. 7 ; 
Josh. xv. 4, Revised Version). Mr. G. J. Chester, writing of his 
journey from San (or Zoan) to the border, says : ' Evening corning 
on, I again camped near the sea-shore, and the next morning arrived 
at the Wady Fiumara, or dry torrent-bed of " El 'Arish," so strangely 
and misleadingly termed in the Authorised Version "the river of 
Egypt." The town, or rather village, of clay houses, stands between 
the desert and the sea, at the distance of about a quarter of a mile 
from the latter. . . . To the west of the entrance of the wady, close 
to the sea-shore, are the remains of some ancient houses. Occasion- 
ally, in winter, when heavy rains have fallen amongst the mountains 
inland, the wady of El 'Arish is temporarily a turbulent rushing 
torrent. ... El 'Arish, or rather the wady at that place, is the natural 
boundary of Egypt, and appears as such in many maps.' The Rev. 
F. W. Holland says that this wady has been traced from the Medi- 
terranean Sea to Nakhl; it is really more than 100 miles in length. 
Professor Palmer shows how two great valleys drain the mountain 
plateau of the Tih Desert, and how they ' combine their streams, and 
then, flowing into Wady el 'Arish, are carried on to the Mediterranean.' 
Dr. Trumbull says : ' Egypt proper is bounded definitely enough on 
the east by a line drawn from El Arish to Akabah.' Harper adds : 
'Enough has been quoted to show how true was the expression 
"brook" or "torrent" of Egypt, and that it should neve be con- 
founded with the Nile. So this, the southern frontier of the Promised 
Land, is seen to be a well-defined gorge or wady, which reaches from 
the Great Sea westward to Nakhl, and continues to Akabah on the 
Red Sea. If we look at 2 Chron. ix. 26, we read, "Solomon ruled 
over all the kings from the river (i.e. Euphrates) even unto the land 



CROSSING AND DISASTER OF THE RED SEA. 325 

of the Philistines, and the border of Egypt" The writer there did 
not confuse the " brook " with the Nile, as so many Bible commen- 
tators do now.' 



The Crossing and Disaster of the Red Sea. 

EXODUS xiv. 22, 28 : ' And the children of Israel went jnto the midst of the sea 
upon the dry ground. . . And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and 
the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them.' 

Question. Can recent explorations be said to have fixed the pre- 
cise point of the crossing and the disaster ? 

Answer. There are still various opinions held, and a certain 
decision may never be attained because of the physical changes of 
the district ; but Sir J. W. Dawson has materially contributed to a 
settlement by a careful geological examination of the surrounding 
country. The chief points in his conclusions may be given. ' A 
still more important question is as to the precise locality where the 
Hebrews were overtaken, and where the crossing of the sea occurred. 
It is evident, in the first place, that no important town or city existed 
at the locality. This is implied in the description given and in the 
character of the names employed. The place of this great event was 
so important that care was taken to define it by mentioning three 
points, presumably well known to the narrator; but this method 
implies that there was no one definite name for the locality. All the 
names employed are Semitic, and not Egyptian, except, perhaps, the 
prefix Pi in one of them. Pi-hahiroth may have been a. village, but 
its distinctive character is that of " place of reeds " a reedy border 
of the sea, near the embouchure of fresh water from the Nile, or 
Sweet-water Canal. Migdol cannot have been, as supposed by some, 
a fortified place. It would have been madness, with 'Pharaoh in 
their rear, for the Israelites to have encamped near such a place. It 
must rather have been a commanding height used, as the name 
implies, as a watch-tower to command an extensive view, or to give 
signals. Baal-Zephon " the Lord of the North " is generally under- 
stood to have been a mountain, though both Jebel Attaka and the 
northern peak of Jebel er Rabah may lay claim to the title. In any 
case, the place so named by Moses was " opposite" to the camp of 
the Israelites, and consequently across the sea. 

' After somewhat careful examination of the country, I believe that 
only one place can be found to satisfy these conditions of the Mosaic 
narrative, namely, the south part of the Bitter Lake, between station 
Fayid on the railway, and station Geneffeh. Near this place are 



326 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

some inconsiderable ancient ruins, and flats covered with Arundo 
and Scirpus, which may represent Pi-hahiroth. On the west is the 
somewhat detached peak known as Jebel Shebremet, more than 500 
feet high, commanding a very wide prospect, and forming a most 
conspicuous object to the traveller approaching from the north. 
Opposite, in the Arabian desert, rises the prorninent northern point 
of the Jebel er Rabah, marked on the maps as Jebel Muksheih, and 
which may have beeh the Baal-Zephon of Moses. Here there is also 
a basin-like plain, suitable for an encampment, and at its north side 
the foot of Jebel Shebremet juts out so as to form a narrow pass, easy 
of defence. Here also the Bitter Lake narrows, and its shallower 
part begins, and a north-east wind, combined with a low tide, would 
produce the greatest possible effect in lowering the water. ... It 
may further be observed as an incidental corroboration that the 
narrative in Exodus states that after crossing the sea the Israelites 
journeyed three days and found no water. From the place above 
referred to, three days' journey would bring them to the Wells of 
Moses, opposite Suez, which thus come properly into place as the 
Marah of the narrative, whereas the ordinary theory of a crossing at 
Suez would bring the people at once to these wells. They are also 
said to have journeyed for three days in the wilderness of Etham, 
and then to have come to the wilderness of Shur, or " the wall," 
whereas the wilderness of Shur is directly opposite Suez, and not 
three days' journey to the south. The three days' journey from the 
place of crossing would not be long journeys, the whole distance 
being about thirty miles, but there was now no reason for haste, and 
the want of water would not be favourable to long marches.' 

For a full study of the question of the extension of the Red Sea 
northwards in ancient times, see Daw son's l Egypt and Syria,' p. 67. 

With this view of Dawson's may be compared the account given in 
a recent work on Exodus by Professor Macgregor. l Not far from 
Suez, south and eastward on the Egyptian side of the Red Sea, there 
is a plain, which reaches inland some twelve miles from that sea. At 
the upper extremity of that plain there is a height on which is an 
ancient fort named Ajrud. This Ajrud we shall take as the site of 
Pi-hahiroth. Pi means town. So that Pi-hahiroth is Hahiroth-town. 
And Hahiroth may have dwindled into Ajrud. From this Pi-hahiroth, 
at the head of the plain, facing towards the Red Sea at the foot of it, 
we look beyond the narrow sea, on the east side of it, for Baal- 
Zephon, which the Israelites saw, if they looked across the sea from 
this plain, between it and Ajrud. The geographer finds it by first 
observing that Baal-Zephon is a Zephon of Baal. And Zephon is a 



CROSSING AND DISASTER OF THE RED SEA. 327 

Phoenician deity that was known to the Egyptians as the foreign god 
Sutech. Now this Sute'ch went into the composition of the name of 
a city which in old times was on that coast beyond the Red Sea. 
Finally, we need to have a Migdol, since that name, too, is in the 
history. And this by some geographers is found in Maktal, an 
ancient Egyptian fort (Migdol means " tower ") near the site of a well 
named Bir Suaveis (the well of Suez). This Migdol, if the Israelites 
were in the plain, would be close upon them, near the sea, while 
Pi-hahiroth was behind them, on the height, and Baal-Zephon was 
before them beyond the Gulf. On their left hand the Gulf extended 
much farther toward the .Mediterranean than it does at present ; and 
the land was much under water, of marsh, lagoon or lake ; while 
they have further been turned from that direction by the formidable- 
ness of the Philistines beyond the head of the Gulf. But if they 
thus be intercepted on their left side, on the right hand of the plain 
they have reached there is broken, if not mountainous ground, which 
practically barricades their way in that direction. And if, while they 
are thus shut in on the right hand and on the left, with the Red Sea 
before them, the Egyptians come up behind them, where there is the 
height and foot of Hahiroth, plainly, with no outgate but the sea, 
they are, as the history says, entangled caught as in a trap, which 
they have entered, and which the Egyptians have now closed behind 
them.' 

The Two Dans. 

GENESIS xiv. 14 : ' And when Abram heard that his brother was taken 
captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and 
eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan.' 

Difficulty. If this is identified with Laish, it is strange to find it 
here called Dan, seeing that this name was not given to the place until 
after its conquest by the Danites. 

Explanation. At first sight it may seem necessary to associate 
the name of this place with Dan, one of the sons of Jacob ; but the 
word simply means ' a judge,' and so was in use long before Dan, 
Jacob's son, was born, and may have been the name of a place 
in Canaan in Abraham's time. 

Two very simple explanations of this reference have been given. 

1. Le Clerc suggests that the original name of the fountain was 
* Dan ' ; that is, ' The Judge,' the neighbouring town being Laish ; 
but that the Danites gave the name of the well, which corresponded 
with that of their own tribe, to the city as well as the fountain. 

2. Keil, with Kalisch, noticing that Laish did not lie in either of the 
two roads leading from the Vale of Siddim to Damascus, suggest that 



328 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

quite another place is referred to ; they think it must be Dan-Jaan 
(2 Sam. xxiv. 6), apparently belonging to Gilead, and to be sought for 
in Northern Peroea, to the south-west of Damascus. 

A traveller thus describes the situation of Laish : ' Laish, or Dan, 
is now called Tell el Kady (" the mound of the judge "), a broad 
round Tell, a mile south of Hermon, and stands prominently on the 
plain. Very fine springs exist, for the Jordan source is here. The 
top of the Tell comprises several acres. It would be difficult to find 
a more lovely situation than this ; even now, on the west, are thickets 
of oak, oleander, and reeds.' 

Dan-Jaan, which the Septuagint and Vulgate read as ' Dan in the 
Woods,' may be the ruin Danian, 4 miles north of Achzib, between 
Tyre and Akka, as suggested by the Palestine Survey party. 

For the seizure of the district of Laish by a party of Danites, see 
Josh. xix. 47 ; Judg. xviii. 29. It seems that the portion allotted to 
the tribe of Dan proved too small for the numbers of the tribe. 
Stanley says : ' Squeezed into the narrow strip between the mountains 
and the sea, its energies were great beyond its numbers.' They 
therefore sent out spies, who tracked the Jordan to its source, and 
found a town known as Leshem, or Laish, in a most fertile district. 
The inhabitants were a colony from Sidon, and under the protection 
of Lebanon, and in an out-of-the-way spot, they dwelt secure. Six 
hundred Danites from Zorah and Eshtaol seized this town and settled 
in this district, adding it to Danite territory. 

The original allotment to the Danites was only about 14 miles of 
coast-line, from Joppa to Ekron ; but it was one of the most fertile 
tracts in the land, the corn-field and garden of Southern Palestine. 

Inglis gives a suggestion which deserves attention. As this town 
was situated near the sources of the river ]ordan, it might have been 
known from the earliest times as Dan. 

This seems to be quite clear. The name of the place, as Dan, is 
not necessarily associated with the expedition of the Danites in the 
time of the Judges. 

The Limits of the Solomonic Kingdom. 

I KINGS iv. 21 : ' And Solomon reigned over all the kingdoms from the river 
unto the land of the Philistines, and unto the border of Egypt.' 

Difficulty. Only in a special sense could the country of Israel ever 
be said to reach the river Euphrates. 

Explanation. In the boastful style of Eastern language, the 
limits of a kingdom were made to include not only its natural 
territory, but also the territory of the countries that were, in any 



THE LIMITS OF THE SOLOMONIC KINGDOM. 329 

sense, dependent on it. Solomon exercised a suzerainty over the 
kings of the countries lying north and east of Palestine, as far the 
Euphrates ; but probably this involved little more than the sending to 
Solomon of a yearly present, as is even now done by some of the 
surrounding nations which regard themselves as dependent on China. 
This is the special sense in which Solomon can be said to have 
reigned over these kingdoms. 

As to the southern limit, the confusion of the so-called * River of 
Egypt ' with the Nile, has now been fully corrected. See previous 
paragraph on the ' River of Egypt.' Wady el 'Arish is the natural 
southern boundary of Palestine, and equally the natural 'border of 
Egypt.' 

Only when the original promises of God are carefully limited and 
qualified can the fulfilment in subsequent history be recognised. To 
Abraham (Gen. xv. 18) God said : 'Unto thy seed have I given this 
land, from the River of Egypt unto the great river, the river 
Euphrates.' Moses assures the people by saying (Deut. xi. 24) : 
'Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be 
yours, from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river 
Euphrates, even unto the utmost sea shall your coast be.' Joshua 
repeats the Mosaic form of expression (Josh. i. 4) : ' From the 
wilderness and this Lebanon, even unto the great river, the river 
Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea 
toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.' 

Dr. Geikie gives an account of the troubles of Solomon's early 
reign, and the way in which they were overruled to give him a 
secure and extensive kingdom : ' The various warlike nations which 
David had conquered fretted at their dependence, and hailed the 
great king's death, and that of Joab, his renowned captain, soon after, 
as the signal for revolt. Hadad of Edom, who had found refuge in 
Egypt, managed to escape, and flew to his native mountains, where 
he was forthwith acknowledged king by many of his countrymen, and 
was able to give Solomon great trouble, though he never succeeded 
in gaining the entire independence of his race. About the same 
time commotions arose in the north. Rezon, a Syrian, formerly 
an officer of the fallen King of Zobah, had risen as a local chief even 
in David's reign, and had roamed through the deserts as a freebooter. 
On Solomon's accession, an opportunity for bolder action seemed to 
offer, and, making a swoop on Damascus, he took it, and tried to 
make it the centre of a new power. He was not able, however, to 
hold it long, though his audacity continued to disturb Israel. 
Hamath, on the Orontes, also revolted, but Solomon soon re- 



330 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

conquered it. Disturbances rose, likewise, in the west, where the 
petty kingdom of Gezer, or Geshur, between the hills and the 
Philistine cities, strove to regain its independence, probably with the 
help of various allies. The king of Egypt conquered it, and 
handed it over as part of the dowry of the Egyptian princess whom 
Solomon married.' 

It does not appear that Solomon extended the borders of his 
country by war, but he was skilful in securing alliances, and offering 
protection to smaller states. It is, therefore, necessary to consider 
how far David enlarged the boundaries, and what size the kingdom 
was when Solomon came to the throne. By the defeat of Shobach, 
the general of Hadadezer, the kingdoms of Rehob, Maachah, and 
Tob passed under the rule of David, and the territories of Zobah 
became part of the Hebrew dominions. The Aramaean King of 
Damascus was involved in the ruin of Hadadezer, and his territory 
was held by Hebrew garrisons. ' Between the Euphrates and the 
Lebanon officials from Jerusalem levied tribute for the new Jewish 
empire.' The Edomites and the Ammonites were conquered, and 
the Philistines were subdued. ' The limits of the kingdom, a short 
time before, had been Dan and Beersheba, on the north and south. 
But David now reigned from the " River (brook) of Egypt " to the 
Euphrates ; from Gaza, on the west, to Thapsacus, on the east ; and 
from all the subject-nations in this vast empire yearly tribute was 
exacted; in part, probably, in the form of drafts of slave labour to 
toil on the royal buildings and other public works.' 



Whence came the Water for the Carmel Sacrifice ? 

^ I KINGS xviii. 33 : ' And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in 
pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour 
it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood.' 

Question. Have recent researches effectually removed the difficulty 
of getting so much water high up on the mountain side ? 

Answer. It is not only the unlikely situation, but also the long 
continuance of the drought, that has occasioned difficulty, and 
suggested sceptical objections to the narrative. The River Kishon 
was certainly accessible, but its actual nearness depends on the 
position fixed for the great assembly. Both Kitto and Thomson find 
no natural impossibility in obtaining the water from Kishon. There 
were plenty of people about ready to fetch and carry, and from the 
dwellings of the district buckets could readily be obtained. More- 
over, as Elijah knew what he intended to do, and there were long 



THE WATER FOR THE CARMEL SACRIFICE. 331 

hours during which the Baal prophets were trying to bring down the 
fire, the messengers of Elijah had plenty of time in which to fetch 
and store large quantities of water ready for the supreme moment. 
It may be therefore firmly held that the water may have been brought 
from the Kishon. 

A perennial fountain has, however, been found near to the place of 
sacrifice, but opinion seems to vary concerning its sufficiency for 
Elijah's purpose. On this a few extracts from Bible writers may be 
given. 

Jamieson says : ' Two hundred and fifty feet beneath the altar 
plateau there is a perennial fountain, which, being close to the altar 
of the Lord, might not have been acceptable to the people, and 
whence, therefore, even in that season of severe drought, Elijah could 
procure those copious supplies of water which he poured over the 
altar. The distance between this spring and the altar is so short as 
to make it perfectly possible to go thrice thither and back again ; 
whereas it must have been impossible once in an afternoon to fetch 
water from the sea. The summit is 1,000 feet above the Kishon.' 

Canon Tristram writes as follows : * During my travels I was in 
the habit of collecting carefully the many species of small fresh-water 
shells which inhabit the streams, fountains, and wells of Palestine 
Now, among the best ascertained and most universally acknowledged 
sites of scenes of deep Scriptural interest, there is none more unani- 
mously accepted than the site of Elijah's sacrifice at the east end of 
Mount Carmel. This spot was first brought to the notice of English 
readers by the Rev. G. Williams, and has been admirably described 
both by him and by Dean Stanley. The name of the place is El 
Moharakah, "the place of burning." There is the rocky platform 
standing out in front of the ridge, there is the gently sloping place 
below, with the sides of the hill gently spreading down to the plain, 
and washed by the Kishon, as it winds round the mountain's base. 
On its bank, full in view, is the artificial-looking knoll, or mound, 
Tell Kassis, " the mound of the priests," where Elijah slew the pro- 
phets of Baal. Close by the place of sacrifice, shaded by a noble 
old tree, by a rock on which the king may have sat, is a large natural 
cistern of sweet water, which the people of the neighbourhood say is 
never exhausted. One traveller remarks that in a very dry season he 
found it nearly dry (probably from having been largely drawn upon), 
but all others, at all times of the year, have found it full. The exist- 
ence of this well at once solves any difficulty as to the copious supply 
of water at hand for Elijah, wherewith to drench the altar and its 
sacrifice. My search for shells illustrated the permanence of the 



332 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

fountain in another way. It is well known that there are many species 
of pluviatila molluscs which can survive a long drought, buried in the 
mud at the bottom of pools. But this is not the case with all species. 
Especially the well-known genus Neritina, of which very pretty group 
of fresh-water shells one species is found in our English rivers, is 
very sensitive to removal from water, and only exists in permanent 
streams and pools. I found Neritina Michonii, the species common 
in the Kishon and neighbouring streams, in this fountain only of the 
neighbourhood. The inference is plain, viz., that, when the other 
pools and fountains of the district are dry, the fountain of Elijah, 
fed by the drainage of the limestone cliffs which tower above it, 
continues to afford a supply, as it did during the three years of 
drought. 

Van de Velde says : ' Two hundred and fifty feet beneath the altar- 
plateau is a vaulted and very abundant fountain, built in the form of 
a tank, with a few steps leading down into it, just as one finds else- 
where in the old wells or springs of the Jewish times. Possibly the 
water of the spring may have been consecrated to the Lord, so as 
not to be generally accessible to the people even in times of fearful 
droughts. In such springs the water remains always cool, under the 
shade of a vaulted roof, and with no hot atmosphere to evaporate it. 
While all other fountains were dried up, I can well understand that 
there might have been found here that superabundance of water 
which Elijah poured so profusely over the altar.' 

Josephus distinctly states that it was from the neighbouring well 
(a-Tro r5j$ xpjiw) the water was obtained. 

Geikie assumes the sufficiency of the well. ' Close beneath the 
rocks, under the shade of ancient olive-trees, is a well which is said 
never to fail, and this, even after the long drought, still held sufficient 
water to supply Elijah with as much as he required/ Describing 
more minutely in his latest work, Geikie says : ' There are still some 
fine trees in the amphitheatre, overhanging an ancient fountain, with 
a square stone-built reservoir about eight feet deep beside it, traces 
still remaining of the steps by which the water was reached when low. 
This spring never dries up, as is shown by the presence of living 
fresh-water molluscs, which would die if water were at any time to fail 
them. One can thus understand how, although drought had scorched 
the land for three years, and the Kishon, after shrinking to a string 
of pools, had dried up altogether, there was still water for the sacrifice 
of Elijah, though he needed so much.' 

Canon Rawlinson speaks of this perennial fountain as being ' fed 
by the dews that the wooded upland condenses from the moist 



THE WATER FOR THE CARMEL SACRIFICE. 333 

Mediterranean air, even when it is not sufficiently charged with 
vapour to descend in rain.' 

One or two things need to be considered by way of correcting the 
commonly-received impressions concerning this incident, (i) The 
term ' barrels ' is quite confusing. No such things as we call ' barrels ' 
could have been found among the people under such circumstances, 
and it is this word which has suggested large quantities of water. 
The term is the same as is used in Gen. xxiv. 14-20, Judg. vii. 16, 19, 
and it clearly means the common pitcher, or water-jar, which the 
maidens used to carry on their heads. (2) The altar was only a 
simple heap of stones, of no great size, and so lightly put together 
that every drop of water poured on it would run through and be 
caught in the trench ; and the trench was only a big furrow hastily 
dug round the stones, so as to keep the water from draining away. 
A few pails of water sufficed to meet Elijah's purpose, and prove the 
impossibility of deception. 

This may be regarded as an illustration of the way in which Scrip- 
ture difficulties are needlessly manufactured. We imagine things that 
are altogether beyond the record, and then find all sorts of perplexi- 
ties in the endeavour to explain what we have imagined. 

It is only necessary to add Thomson's criticism of the suggestion 
that the fountain sufficed to supply Elijah's need : ' I cannot agree 
with Van de Velde that the water poured upon the sacrifice was pro- 
cured from the fountain he mentions. The fountain was nearly dry 
when I saw it ; nor do I think that it could hold out through the dry 
season even of one ordinary summer . . . nor are there any marks 
of antiquity about it. The water was obtained, as I suppose, from 
those permanent sources of the Kishon at the base of Carmel.' 

Dr. Kitto may be quoted as supporting this explanation of Thom- 
son's : ' The water thus copiously provided was probably from the 
Kishon, which, towards the end of its course, is supplied from peren- 
nial springs in Carmel, where the upper part (which is but the bed of 
a winter torrent) has become dry. Being so near the sea, these 
fountains may not have dried up from lack of rain.' 

Identification of Adullam. 

I SAMUEL xxii. I : ' David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave 
Adullam.' 

Question. Have recent explorers succeeded in discovering this 
Interesting cave 

Answer. The traditional site is the cave at Khureitun, 5 miles 
iouth-east of Bethlehem, but this is quite untenable. Some are 



334 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

inclined to place it at Deir Dubban, about 6 miles north of Beit 
Jibrin (Eleutheropolis). 

M. Clermont Ganneau, however, was the first to discover the site 
of Adullam, and the existing name of Ayd el Mieh, which preserves 
all the essential letters of the Hebrew. Major Conder has now 
made a careful survey of the spot. He finds the ruins of an ancient 
town (Gen. xxxviii. i, 12, 20) strongly situated (Josh. xii. 15, and 
2 Chron. xi. 7) on the height commanding the broad valley of Elah, 
which was the highway by which the Philistines invaded Judah 
(i Sam. xvii. 17), and where David killed Goliath. Roads connect 
it with Hebron, Bethlehem, and Tell es Safiyeh the probable site of 
Gath. There are terraces of the hill for cultivation, scarped rock for 
fortification, tombs, wells, and aqueducts. The * cave ' is a series of 
caves, some of moderate size and some small, but quite capable 
of housing David's band of followers. If this site be adopted it will 
be seen that some of the most picturesque events of David's life are 
collected into a small area, bringing out most clearly the nature of 
the incidents recorded, such as the swiftness with which he avenged 
the foray of the Philistines in Kilah; the strong places which he 
held barring the valley to the enemy on the one hand, and protecting 
himself from Saul on the other. 

Fuller details serve to give us confidence that this most interesting 
site has certainly been recovered. Harper says : ' Adullam was a 
city in the low country between the hill country of Judah and the 
sea. It was very ancient, being mentioned in Gen. xxxviii. i, 12, 20. 
Now the great valley of Elah was the highway from Philistia to 
Hebron, and Wady es Stint is identified with Elah. It answers all 
the requirements of the sacred text. Eight miles from the valley 
head stands Shochoh. The wady is here a quarter of a mile across. 
Getting deeper and deeper, it runs between rocky hills to an open 
vale of rich cornland, flanked by ancient fortresses, and ends at the 
cliff Tell es Safi. Two miles and a half south of the great angle, near 
Shochoh, there is a large and ancient terebinth, the tree from which 
Elah took its name. Near are two ancient wells, with stone water- 
troughs. A high hill near is covered with ruins. Caves, tombs, and 
rock-quarryings exist. A building dedicated to "the notable chief" 
is here placed. Ruins below and near the wells are called 
" the feast of the water," or " feast of the hundred." The Arabic 
words are identical with the Hebrew Adullam. We may, therefore, 
safely consider these ruins to be the city of Adullam ; and the cave is 
on the hill. The Crusaders fixed on some caves east of Bethlehem. We 
know on what slight grounds they identified places. The present 



IDENTIFICA TION OF ADULLAM, 335 

Adullam is ruinous, not deserted ; the sides of the valley are lined 
with caves, some now used to fold flocks and herds. There is 
one separate cave, with ample accommodation for 400 men. The 
hill is 500 feet high, and the whole of the country of David's exploits 
with the Philistines is close at hand.' 

In his latest work, ' The Holy Land and the Bible,' Geikie gives what 
appear to be the results of personal observation : l About two miles 
to the south of the scene of David's triumph the Palestine Surveyors 
appear to have discovered the Cave of Adullam, so famous in the 
after-life of the Hebrew king. It lies in a round hill about 500 feet 
high, pierced with a number of caverns, the hill itself being isolated by 
several valleys, and marked by ancient ruins, tombs, and quarryings. 
At its foot are two old wells of special antiquity, one measuring 8 to 
10 feet in diameter, not unlike the wells at Beersheba, and surrounded, 
as those are, by numerous stone water-troughs. Near these wells, 
under the shadow of the hill which towers aloft, a veritable natural 
stronghold, are other ruins, to which the peasants give the name of 
Aid-el-Ma, which is identical with the Hebrew Adullam. Such a 
verification seems to mark the spot as, beyond question, that in 
which the famous cave should be found, for it was near the royal city 
of Adullam, and the ruins on the hilltop may well be those of that 
place. . . . The road from Hebron to the plains passes the hill, 
winding along the valley of Elah, here called Wady es Sir, from the 
side of which the hill of Adullam rises, the road continuing down the 
valley, which is called Wady es Stint, from Socoh to the plains. Other 
roads trend off in different directions, marking Aid-el-Ma as an 
important centre of communication in former ages. A cave which 
completes the identification exists in the hill, which, in fact, is pierced 
by many natural caverns. It is not necessary to suppose that the one 
used by David was of great size, for such spacious recesses are 
avoided by the peasantry even now, from their dampness and 
tendency to cause fever. Their darkness, moreover, needs many 
lights, and they are disliked from the number of scorpions and bats 
frequenting them. The caves used as human habitations, at least in 
summer, are generally about 20 or 30 paces across, lighted by the 
sun, and comparatively dry. I have often seen such places with their 
roofs blackened by smoke ; families lodging in one ; goats, cattle, and 
sheep stabled in another ; and grain or straw stored in a third. 
At Adullam there are two such caves on the northern slope of the 
hill, and another farther south ; while the opposite sides of the tributary 
valley are lined with rows of caves, all smoke-blackened, and mostly 
inhabited, or used as pens for flocks and herds. The cave on the 



336 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

south of the hill itself was tenanted by a single family when the 
surveyors visited it, just as it might have been by David and his 
immediate friends, while his followers housed themselves in those 
near at hand.' 

Identification of Hormah. 

NUMBERS xiv. 45 : ' Then the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites which 
dwelt in that hill, and smote them, and discomfited them, even unto Hormah.' 

Question. Can a decision be made between rival candidates for 
this site ? 

Answer. The two suggestions are: (i) Zephath, south of Beer- 
sheba (2) Khurbet Hora, east of Beersheba. 

Harper says : ' Zephath, or Hormah, has not been identified, 
though the name Khurbet Hora has been found east of Beersheba. 
A low hill, an important site, with wells and underground granaries, 
a large bell-mouthed cistern, and five small towers. The site occupies 
a circle of one-and-a-half miles in diameter. Rowlands thought it 
was S'baita, where there are extensive ruins ; a ruined fortress also ; 
it would be near Geder and Arad. The latter is sixteen miles from 
Hebron, where there is a large ruin, now called Tell 'Arad, on a large 
mound.' After explaining the recent discovery of Kadesh-barnea, 
and the correction of our idea of the later movements of the Israelites 
which this discovery involves, Harper adds : * It shows us that the 
Israelites did not use the " Arabah " as their main camping ground. 
That great wady, surrounded as it was by their enemies, would have 
been no safe camping-ground for them ; but stopping at Kadesh, and 
the desert near, they would be out of the track and in defensible 
positions. So also the traditional Mount Hor must be recognised 
as an impossible Mount Hor. . . . Blind to all warning, the Israelites 
presume to "go up into the hilltop," and are defeated, and discom- 
fited even to Hormah. The word means "banning," and is identical 
with Zephath. This has been identified by Palmer with " S'beita," 
and he discovered, close by, the ancient " watch-tower " (which again 
is the meaning of the Hebrew word). This tower is on the top of a 
hill. The ruins are primeval, though there are more recent fortifica- 
tions. From this fort the Amorites and Canaanites most likely issued 
to attack Israel. The Arabic words used for the valley near the moun- 
tain mean, " the ravine of the Amorites," and the mountains themselves 
are called by a word meaning " head," or " top," of the Amorites.' 

Geikie adds some points of interest, and favours the Zephath rather 
than the Hora site. ' The inhabitants of the region between Israel 



CLEAN AND UNCLEAN FOODS. 337 

and Palestine were " Amalekites and Canaanites," who had occupied 
a comparatively fertile expanse of country, partly arable, partly pastoral, 
between Kadesh and Engedi. They allowed the invaders to pene- 
trate far towards Palestine, and then turning upon them, pursued 
them as far as Hormah, a city which has been identified as situated 
on the southern verge of the table-land, about twenty-four miles north 
of Kadesh. Its name at the time of the attack was not Hormah, 
however, but Zephath, " the watch-tower ;" "Hormah," " a desolated 
place," being the name given* it after its utter destruction by the 
Israelites in the times succeeding Joshua (Judg. i. 17). It was the 
great point from which the roads across the desert, after having been 
all united, again diverge towards Gaza and Hebron, and its site is 
still marked by the ruins of a square tower of hewn stones, with a 
large heap of stones adjoining, on the top of a hill, which rises a 
thousand feet above the wady on the edge of which it stands.' 



SUB-SECTION IV. 

DIFFICULTIES RELATING TO NATURAL HISTORY. 



Clean and Unclean Foods. 

LEVITICUS xi. 2 : ' Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the 
beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth.' 

Question. Is the Mosaic distinction between i clean ' and ' un- 
clean ' based on the wholesomeness or unwholesomeness of the different 
kinds of food ? 

Answer. It should be borne in mind that the distinction 
between clean and unclean beasts is a natural one, which was fully 
recognised in the arrangements made for preserving the species in 
the Ark. * Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee seven and 
seven, the male and his female ; and of the beasts that are not clean 
two, the male and his female ' (Gen. vii. 2). The terms appear to 
mean * fit for human food,' * unfit for human food ' ; or ' domestic ' 
and 'wild.' But clearly Noah must have had some well-known signs 
by which he recognised the distinctions between them, and those 
signs may well have been 'parting the hoof and 'chewing the cud,' 
which we find in the Mosaic legislation. 

Duns says : ' Clean beasts were originally such as were offered in 
sacrifice. The rest were unclean. As the race increased, the dis- 

22 



338 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

tinctions were carried further. Men became acquainted with a 
greater number of animals. Certain animals came to be associated 
with the idolatrous habits of certain tribes. This introduced other 
considerations. The habits of some disgusted the conventional 
feelings of one tribe, while they were regarded with favour by another. 
Circumstances of climate also were taken into account in connection 
with the food best suited to the inhabitants of such countries. All 
these things influenced men's views of the lower animals, and they 
are acknowledged in the Levitical arrangements.' 

Bishop Harold Browne says : ' The boundary-line between clean 
and unclean animals is marked by nature. Every tribe of mankind 
would distinguish between the sheep and the hyaena, between the 
dove and the vulture. Whether animal food was eaten before the 
Deluge or not, it is certain that flocks and herds were fed for the 
sake of their milk and wool, and that of them victims were offered in 
sacrifice. This alone would separate between the clean and the 
unclean. It is not improbable that the distinction even of the names 
" clean and unclean " had been fully established by custom long 
before it was recognised and ratified by the Law.' 

KeiPs suggestion is altogether too vague : ' The distinction between 
clean and unclean beasts is not first made by Moses, but only 
becomes fixed in the law as corresponding to it, though existing long 
before. Its beginnings reach back to the primitive time, and ground 
themselves on an immediate conscious feeling of the human spirit 
not yet clouded by any unnatural and ungodly culture, under the 
influence of which feeling it sees in many beasts pictures of sin and 
corruption which fill it with aversion and abhorrence.' 

S. Clark, M.A., in 'Speaker's Commentary,' gives some of the 
opinions formed as to what considerations directed the line by which 
clean animals were separated from unclean. 'It has been held (i) 
That the food forbidden was such as was commonly eaten by the 
neighbouring nations, and that the prohibition served as a check to 
keep the people away from social intercourse with the Gentiles. (So 
Davidson.} (2) That the flesh of certain animals from which the 
Egyptians abstained, because they held it to be sacred, was pro- 
nounced clean, and treated as common food, and that the flesh of 
other animals, which was associated with the practice of magic, was 
abominated as unclean, in order that the Israelites might, in their 
daily life, bear a testimony against idolatry and superstition. (3) That 
it is impossible to refer the line of demarcation to anything but the 
arbitrary will of God. (4) But the notion which has been accepted 
Avith most favour is, that the distinction is based wholly or mainly on 



CLEAN AND UNCLEAN FOODS. 339 

symbolical ground. By some it has been connected with the degra- 
dation of all creation through the fall of man. The apparent reflec- 
tion of moral depravity in the disposition of some animals has been 
identified in rather a loose way with the unclean creatures of the Law. 
(5) Many have considered that the prohibition of the unclean 
animals was based mainly or entirely on sanitary grounds, their flesh 
being regarded as unwholesome.' 

' It cannot be doubted that the distinction which is substantially 
recognised by different nations is in agreement with the laws of our 
earthly life. All experience tends to show, that the animals generally 
recognised as clean are those which furnish the best and most whole- 
some sorts of food. The instinct of our nature points in the same 
direction. Everyone dislikes the snake and the toad. No one likes 
the form and habits of the pig. We shrink from the notion of eating 
the flesh of the hyaena or the vulture. When we are told of our 
fellow-creatures eating slugs, snails, and earthworms, and accounting 
the grubs found in rotten wood a delicacy, the feeling of disgust 
which arises within us would not seem to be the offspring of mere 
conventional refinement. This conclusion is not invalidated by the 
fact that our own repugnant feelings have been subdued in the case 
of the oyster and the pig. In regard to the distinction as it is laid 
down in the Mosaic Law, Cyril appears to be amply justified in saying 
that it coincides with our natural instinct and observation.' 'The 
chief part of the food of all cultivated nations has been taken from 
the same kind of animals. The ruminating quadrupeds, the fishes 
with fins and scales, the gallinaceous birds and other birds which 
feed on vegetables, are evidently preferred by the general choice of 
mankind.' 

The law of clean and unclean appears in its broader shape to be 
this : All creatures whose food is wholly vegetable are wholesome 
food for man. All creatures whose food is wholly animal are un- 
wholesome food for man. Creatures whose food is partly vegetable 
and partly animal may be wholesome, or may not be. And even 
after the physical influence of certain foods has been duly considered, 
we have to take into account their moral influence, the effects they 
produce by exciting bodily passion. 



22 2 



340 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 
The Ways of the Partridge. 

JEREMIAH xvii. 11 : 'As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not.' 
Rev. Ver. renders, ' As the partridge that gathereth young which she hath not 
brought forth.' With marginal alternative, ' Sitteth on eggs which she hath not 
laid.' 

Question. Is there any foundation in fact for this account of the 
partridge ? 

Answer. According to Epiphanius, Ambrose, Jerome, Chry- 
sostom, and the Arabian naturalist Damir, there was an old belief 
that the partridge took eggs out of other bird's nests, and that when 
the young were hatched, and were old enough, they ran away from 
their false parent. Such a notion may have been held by the ancient 
Hebrews, though it is quite unfounded. 

Geikie speaks of this as a ' popular fancy of Jeremiah's day.' 
Fausset notes that the Hebrew name for this bird is korea, from a 
root ' to call,' alluding to its cry ; a name still applied to a bustard 
by the Arabs. Its nest is liable, being on the ground, to be trodden 
under foot, or robbed by carnivorous animals, notwithstanding all 
the beautiful manoeuvres of the parent-birds to save their brood. 
The translation, ' sitteth on eggs which it has not laid,' alludes to 
the ancient notion that she stole the eggs of other birds, and hatched 
them as her own, and that the young birds when grown left her for 
the true mother. It is not needful to make Scripture allude to an 
exploded notion as if it were true. 

The Speaker's Commentary thinks the notion of the partridge steal- 
ing the eggs of other birds might easily have been taken from the 
great number of eggs which the partridge lays. 

Dean Plumptre says : ' Modern naturalists have not observed this 
habit, but it is probable that the belief originated in the practice of 
the cuckoo laying its eggs in the nest of the partridge, as in that of 
other birds.' 

Theodoric, the King of the Goths, in his letter quoted by Cassio- 
dorus, refers to the popular belief that young birds brought up by 
partridges fly away to their own parents. 

Identification of the Unicorn. 

JOB xxxix. 9 : ' Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib ?' 
Rev. Ver. reads, 'Will the wild ox be content to serve thee ?' 

Question. Are there any one-horned creatures that can possibly 
be referred to by the English term ' unicorn '? 

Answer. The Revised Version seems to have fixed a decision 
in relation to this animal, whose name in Hebrew is reem. It was 



IDENTIFICATION OF THE UNICORN. 341 

the wild bull, a two-horned creature. Remains of this animal have 
recently been discovered in Palestine. One of the earliest Assyrian 
kings, probably Tiglath-Pileser L, speaks of 'wild rimi destructive, 
which he slew at the foot of Lebanon,' plainly meaning wild-bulls. 

The rhinoceros is the only animal we know that bears one horn, 
but it must be borne in mind that though the English translation 
sets us upon seeking an animal with one horn, the Hebrew term 
provides no such condition. Dr. Good thinks there can be no doubt 
that rhinoceros is the proper term; for this animal is universally 
known in Arabia by the name of reem to the present day. The 
traveller, Mr. Browne, says that the Arabians call the rhinoceros 
Abu-kurn, ' father of the one horn.' This creature is distinguished 
from all other animals by the remarkable and offensive weapon he 
carries on his nose. This is very hard horn, solid throughout, 
directed forward, and has been seen four feet in length. 

It is certainly a very remarkable thing that the LXX., in all the 
passages of the Bible in which the word occurs, with one exception, 
should have rendered the word monokeros, that is, ' unicorn,' if the 
existence of some such animal had not been familiar to them. 

But the identification with the rhinoceros cannot be sustained. 
The fact that the reem was an animal with two horns is settled by the 
passage, Deut. xxxiii. 1 7, which reads : * His horns are like the horns 
of a reem ' (see the margin, Authorised Version). The two horns of 
the reem represent the two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim, which 
sprang from the one tribe Joseph. 

The only trace of a one-horned creature which we have been able 
to hear of, besides the rhinoceros, is a kind of antelope, but not a 
fierce enough or a strong enough creature to answer the Bible 
descriptions of the reem. Abbe Hue, in his * Travels in Tartary and 
Thibet,' says that the * unicorn really exists in Thibet. It is repre- 
sented in the sculptures and paintings of the Buddhic temples. 
Even in China you often see it in landscapes that ornament the inns 
of the northern provinces. M. Hue had at one time a small Mongol 
treatise on natural history for the use of children, in which the 
unicorn formed one of the pictorial illustrations. He was not, how- 
ever, fortunate enough to see one during his travels. Mr. Hodgson, 
an English resident in Nepaul, has succeeded in getting possession of 
one, the skin and horn of which were sent to Calcutta. It is a 
species of antelope, reddish in colour, with white belly. Its distinc- 
tive features are, first, a black horn, long and pointed, with three 
slight curvatures, and circular annulations towards the base. There 
are two tufts of hair which project from the exterior of each nostril, 



342 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

and much hair also down round the nose and mouth, which gives the 
animal's head a heavy appearance.' 

The following extracts will show whence we have derived the 
heraldic figure of the unicorn. Ctesias (B.C. 400) says: 'The Onoi 
Agrioi are as large as horses, and even larger, with white bodies, red 
heads, blue eyes, and have each on their foreheads a horn a cubit and 
a half long, the base of which is white, the upper part red, the middle 
part black. Drinking-cups are formed of these horns, and those who 
drink out of them are said to be subject neither to spasm, nor 
epilepsy, nor to the effects of poison. Other asses have no astra- 
galus ; but these have one, as well as a gall-bladder. The astragalus 
I have seen myself ; it is beautifully formed, in shape like that of an 
ox, and very heavy and red throughout. The animal is so swift that no 
horse can overtake it, and so strong and fierce that it is with difficulty 
destroyed by arrows and javelins. It begins its running slowly, but 
gradually increases its speed. It shows great attachment to its' 
young, which it defends against its pursuers, fighting with horn, teeth, 
and heels. The flesh is so bitter that it is not eaten ; but men set a 
high value on the horns and astragali.' 

Pliny (A.D. 70) says : ' The Orssean Indians hunt a very fierce 
animal, called the monoceros, which has the body of a horse, the head 
of a stag, the feet of an elephant, and the tail of a wild boar ; it 
utters a deep lowing noise, and has a single horn, two cubits long, 
projecting from the middle of its forehead. They say this animal 
cannot be taken alive.' 

sElian (A.D. 130) gives a further account of this monoceros. ' It is 
as big as a full-grown horse, with a mane and yellow woolly hair, of 
greatest swiftness, with feet like the elephant, and the tail of a wild 
boar. It has a black horn growing between the eyebrows, which is 
not smooth, but with natural twistings, and is very sharp at the point. 
It utters loud, harsh sounds. It lives peaceably with other animals, 
but quarrels with those of its own kind, the males even destroying 
the females, except at breeding-time, at which season the animals are 
gregarious ; but at other times they live in solitude in wild regions.' 

Making due allowance for inexactnesses and extravagances of 
description, the above may be referred to the rhinoceros, when that 
was a little known animal. 



CONEY AND HARE STATED TO CHEW THE CUD. 343 



The Coney and Hare stated to Chew the Cud. 

LEVITICUS xi. 5, 6 : ' And the coney, because he cheweth the cud but parteth 
not the hoof, he is unclean unto you^ And the hare, because she cheweth the 
cud but parteth not the hoof, she is unclean unto you.' 

Difficulty. The description given of these animals is not correct. 

Explanation. It is the description which would be given by a 
mere observer. Whenever the hare is at rest on its form, the restless 
motion of its jaws betrays the constant working of its teeth, and the 
same habit has been noticed in the coney. The similarity between 
this movement and that of the cow's mouth when chewing the cud 
could not fail to strike the unscientific observer, who would naturally 
give the same explanation for each case. It is rather a remarkable 
thing that the Arabs of the present day class the hare among animals 
lawful to be eaten, on the express ground that it does chew the cud. 

This presents a striking illustration of the unscientific character of 
the Scriptures. They record popular fallacies in matters of science. 
Moses repeats the common opinion of his day in all such things as 
natural history. 

Neither the hare nor the coney does, in fact, chew the cud. Neither 
creature is provided with the necessary internal apparatus. For them 
both it is a natural impossibility. They were thought to do it in 
Moses' day. It is thought by many persons still that they do it. It 
is only fair and straightforward to recognise a scientific error in this 
classification of the hare and coney among ruminants. 

Tristram tries to get over the difficulty by saying that the Hebrew 
word does not imply 'having a ruminant stomach, 'but simply re-chew, 
or masticate. But there is no point in the passage if in these two 
cases the term is to be taken in some sense that will not apply to the 
cow, or other ruminant creatures. J. D. Michaelis takes the same 
line as Tristram. ' Although there may have been no genuine rumi- 
nation in the strict sense of the term, yet the act of the hare munch- 
ing its food went popularly by the name of rumination, or chewing 
again. ' 

How curiously persistent the unscientific notion has proved is 
shown in the fact that Linnceus classed the hare with ruminating 
animals, speaking from the popular opinion with regard to it. And 
the poet Cowper who kept hares, and observed them diligently 
says that 'one of his hares chewed the cud all day till evening.' 
And Goldsmith tells us that ' the rhinoceros, trie horse, the rabbit, the 
marmot, and the squirrel, all chew the cud by intervals,' which is 
utterly untrue. 



344 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

The scientific fact is thus stated by Houghton : ' The simple fact 
is that all ruminants are bisulcate i.e., divide the hoof into two parts 
and all bisulcates are ruminant. The hornless ruminants belong- 
ing to the genera Camelus and Llama differ somewhat from other 
ruminants in the structure of the foot. The toes of the camel are 
conjoined nearly to the apex, and the feet are callous beneath ; in the 
llama the sole is cloven as far as the middle of the fore part. Hence, 
in point of fact, all ruminants are bisulcate, but not to an equal 
extent.' 

The Ceremonial Uncleanness of Swine. 

LEVITICUS xi. 7 : ' And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be cloven- 
footed, yet he cheweth not the cud ; he is unclean unto you.' 

Difficulty. Surely there must be some deeper reason for forbidding 
the eating of swine's flesh than appears in the fact that swine do not 
chew the cud. 

Explanation. There can be little doubt that the association 
of this animal with idolatrous worship was the real reason for its pro- 
hibition. But it should be noticed that the food of the pig is not 
strictly confined to vegetable substances. It is to a considerable 
extent a flesh-eater, and therefore is unwholesome food. 

Kalisch gives some of the associations of swine with idolatrous 
systems : ' The abhorrence of the Israelites to pork struck the heathen 
as the most conspicuous characteristic of their religion, and it was 
believed they would eat human flesh with no greater repugnance 
than pork. This peculiar aversion to the pig must have had a 
peculiar reason ; it must in some way have been connected with the 
very essence of the Hebrew faith itself. In searching for the reason, 
we obtain welcome aid from statements of classical writers. It 
cannot be doubted that the swine, on account of its prolificness, was 
extensively regarded as an emblem of the fertility of Nature and of 
her productive powers ; it received, therefore, a cosmic significance ; 
it represented the main principle of all heathen religions the eternal 
working of the elements and of the innate forces of matter, a principle 
directly opposed to that of Hebraism, which rigorously insists upon 
one personal Deity creating, ruling, and preserving the universe and 
all mankind. Hence many pagan nations sacrificed the swine to 
those gods to whom they attributed the fertility of the soil and the 
fruitfulness of cattle. Though the Egyptians commonly avoided the 
pig as particularly unclean, they offered and consumed one once 
every year, at the feast of the full moon, in honour of Isis and Osiris, 
the fructifying powers of Nature, and this was done so scrupulously 



THE CEREMONIAL UNCLEANNESS OF SWINE. 345 

that the poor, who could not afford a pig, were ordered to shape one 
of dough, and to hallow and eat this image. The pig was indeed 
believed to have suggested the first idea of ploughing and the plough- 
share by breaking up the earth with its protruding snout. In Egypt 
it was no unimportant agent in securing agricultural success ; for in 
some parts of the country, especially in the Delta, as soon as the 
subsiding Nile had irrigated the fields, the husbandmen turned swine 
into their land to press the seed into the ground, thus protecting the 
grain from the birds ; and at harvest-time pigs were employed to 
tread out the corn. The famous Zodiac of Denderah represents, 
under the sign of the fishes, a man carrying a small pig, which points 
to the Egyptian swine-offering in reference to the progress of the 
seasons. A pig formed the usual sacrifice for Demeter. Thus the 
Athenians generally offered one in their mysteries, which mainly 
related to the secret activity of Nature. On Athenian Eleusinian 
coins Ceres is figured together with a swine. The Boeotians, at an 
annual festival celebrated in their sacred grove near Potniae in honour 
of Demeter and Kora (Proserpine), let down into subterranean 
chambers pigs, which were supposed to reappear in the following 
summer at Dodona, near the old and sacred oracle. The early 
Romans honoured Ceres or Tellus, after the conclusion of the 
harvest, by the sacrifice of a pig, generally a fat and pregnant sow, 
which, indeed, was considered to have been the first offering 
slaughtered to Ceres, if not the first of all sacrifices, " because the 
swine is useful to men mainly by its flesh," that is, by its death. 
Therefore pigs, so far from being detested, were often declared holy. 
Thus the Syrians in Hierapolis, who neither ate nor offered swine, 
did so, according to some ancient authorities, "not because they 
believed pigs to be a pollution, but sacred animals." The Cretans 
held the pig holy, not on account of the mythical reason put forth by 
some foreign writers that a sow allowed the infant Jupiter to suck 
her teats, and by her grunting prevented the child's cries from being 
heard, but because it was the emblem of fruitfulness, whence the 
Praisians, a tribe of Crete, regularly sacrificed a sow before marriage. 
Callimachus called Venus Castnietis the wisest of her sisters, because 
she was the first among them who accepted the sacrifice of swine. 
. . . Hence, again, as Ceres, or agriculture, was looked upon as the 
originator of all personal and civil ties, of matrimonial law, of special 
and political order, the swine was employed for various solemn and 
imposing rituals connected with domestic and public life. The 
Athenians, on entering the national assembly, used certain parts of 
the pig for purification. When they desired to expiate a house, a 



346 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

temple, or a town, the priests carried young pigs round the edifice 
or the city ; and they sprinkled with pig's blood the benches used 
at popular assemblies. . . . Moreover, as pork was, in its nature 
and taste, considered to resemble human flesh, the offering of a 
swine was, on peculiar emergencies, substituted for a human 
sacrifice.' 

'Can it then be surprising that the Jewish doctors and sages, 
anxious to wean the people from the worship of Nature and her 
powers, and to imbue them with reverence for the one eternal 
Creator, the bestower of all earthly blessings, looked with implacable 
detestation upon the animal which typified a main feature of 
paganism, and declared the eating of pork as nothing less than a 
revolt against the foundations of Judaism nay, that the early 
teachers among the Christians shared the same repugnance, and 
relaxed in it only after long struggles ? The very persecution and 
ridicule which the Jews constantly suffered on that account helped 
to intensify their abhorrence, especially as the eating of pork was in 
later times also enforced and regarded as the first and most con- 
spicuous act of the Jewish renegade, as among Mohammedans it is 
still held to be equivalent to abjuring the Islam.' 

Kalisch summarizes the things that made the pig hateful to the 
Jews : ' Loathsome uncleanness, unwholesomeness, carnivorous 
ferocity, and dangerous seduction to paganism.' 

Swine are still held in abomination by Moslems, Jews, Druses, and 
most Orientals. Even some Christians refuse swine's flesh. 

The Eagle's Ways with her Young. 

DEUTERONOMY xxxii. 1 1 (Rev. Ver. ) : 'As an eagle that stirreth up her nest, that 
fluttereth over her young, He spread abroad His wings, He took them, He bare 
them on His pinions.' 

Question. Is this poetical figure based on any such observations 
as can noiv be verified? 

Answer. Thomson thinks it maybe a precise description. 'The 
eagle is strong enough to do it, but I am not aware that such a thing 
has ever been witnessed.' He reports having himself seen 'the old 
eagle fly round and round the nest, and back and forth past it, while 
the young ones fluttered and shivered on the edge, as if eager but 
afraid to launch forth from the giddy precipice. And no wonder, 
for the nest " is on high," and a fall from thence would end their 
flight for ever.' 

A recent traveller, writing in view of a deep chasm in the range 
of Lebanon, says : ' It is not necessary to press every poetical figure 



THE EAGLE'S WAYS WITH HER YOUNG. 347 

into strict prosaic accuracy. The notion, however, appears to have 
been prevalent among the ancients that the eagle did actually take 
up her yet timid young, and carry them forth to teach them how, and 
embolden them to try their own pinions.' 

Moses could not but be observant of the wild birds during his 
long sojourn in Arabia, and this is quite a matter of careful observa- 
tion, not one in which science has any special concern. A person 
accustomed to observe accurately the habits of animals reports 
having seen- an eagle in one of the deep gorges of the Himalayas thus 
teaching its young to fly. While with his glass he watched several 
young ones on a ledge of rock at a great height, the parent bird swept 
gently past the young, one of which ventured to follow, but seemed 
as if unequal to the flight. As it gently sunk down with extended 
wings, one of the parent birds glided underneath it, and bore it aloft 
again. 

Sir Humphrey Davy writes : ' I once saw a very interesting sight 
above one of the crags of Ben Nevis, as I was going in the pursuit of 
black game. Two parent eagles were teaching their offspring, two 
young birds, the manoeuvres of flight. They began by rising from 
the top of a mountain in the eye of the sun. It was about mid-day, 
and bright for this climate. They at first made small circles, and the 
young birds imitated them. They paused on their wings, waiting till 
they had made their first flight, and then took a second and larger 
gyration, always rising towards the sun, and enlarging their circles of 
flight, so as to make a gradually extending spiral. The young ones 
still slowly followed, apparently flying better as they mounted ; and 
they continued this sublime kind of exercise, always rising, till they 
became mere points in the air, and the young ones were lost, and 
afterwards their parents, to our aching sight.' 

Ants Storing their Food. 

PROVERBS vi. 6-8 (Rev. Ver.} : ' Go to the ant, thou sluggard ; consider her 
ways, and be wise ; which having no chief, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat 
in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.' 

Difficulty. Careful observation of the ants of Palestiiie does not 
confirm the fact which is here used as illustration. 

Explanation. It must be admitted that no answer is given to 
this objection if we can only show that there are some kinds of ants, 
in some parts of the world, which do store up their food. It is 
necessary to show that such ants as came within the sphere of the 
observations of this writer did so. What can be known concerning 
the ants of Palestine ? 



348 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

Dr. C. Geikie, in his latest work, * Holy Land and Bible,' writes 
with great confidence on this subject. ' Modern science has felt a 
difficulty in these words, since the ant does not live on grain, but on 
flesh, insects, and the sweet sap or other exudations of trees, which it 
could not store up for winter use, and since it sleeps during winter, 
in all but very hot climates. The truth is, we must not look in 
Scripture for science, which was unknown in early ages, for it is not 
the purpose of Revelation to teach it, and the sacred writers, in this 
as in other matters of a similar kind, were left to write according to 
the popular belief of their day. We find the same idea in another 
passage of Proverbs (ch. xxx. 24, 25) : "There be four things which 
are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise : the ants are a 
people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." It 
was universally believed in antiquity that ants did so. Thomson and 
Neil still cling to the idea. Ants do, indeed, fill their nest with many 
things, but it is to pad them warmly, and keep themselves from the 
damp earth ; and hence, though they are undoubtedly assiduous in 
harvest-time in carrying off grains of corn, chaff, grass, seeds, and 
vegetable husks of all kinds, they do so to make their underground 
rooms comfortable, not to lay up food for a season during which, in 
many parts, they eat nothing. Anyone may see the proof of this for 
himself by opening an ant's nest. He will find everything to make it 
warm, but the supposed " stores " are left quite untouched. 

* It is not certain, indeed, that in Palestine ants hibernate, for they 
may be seen at least in the warm district round the Dead Sea 
busy on the tamarisk-trunks, seeking their food, even in January. 
The mistake is similar to that which prevails very generally, even in 
our own day, as to ants' eggs, which is the name popularly given, 
both in England and Germany, to the pupce, or ants in process of 
transformation into the perfect insect. They then closely resemble 
grains of corn, and are carried out daily by their nurses to enjoy the 
heat of the sun, and taken in again before evening. Who that has 
broken into an ant's nest, by accident or intentionally, has not seen 
the workers rushing off with these white, egg-like bodies, in trembling 
haste, to bear them to a place of security ? But if we nowadays 
make a popular mistake in thinking these to be eggs, how much more 
natural was it that erroneous ideas, on another point of ant-life, should 
obtain three thousand years ago ! Mr. Neil's experience, indeed, 
shows how easily a mistake might arise. While encamped, about the 
middle of March, near Tiberias, on the Lake of Galilee, he noticed a 
line of large, black ants marching towards their nest, each laden with 
a grain of barley, larger and longer than itself, so that they looked 



ANTS STORING THEIR FOOD. 349 

like a moving multitude of barleycorns. This line, he found, ex- 
tended to a spot where some of the corn for his beasts had been 
spilt by the mule-drivers, or had fallen from the nose-bags, and was 
now being appropriated by the ants. That they should carry it off 
seemed at once to justify the supposition that they were doing so to 
lay up food for the winter, and yet, as I have said, nothing is more 
certain than that ants do not eat dried barley, or any other dry 
grain.' 

Houghton says : ' That the ant stores up grains of corn is quite 
true, but the corn is not eaten by the insects, which are chiefly 
carnivorous in their habits, though they are also fond of saccharine 
matters. Ants take a pleasure in running away with various small 
objects, as beans, seeds, etc., which they convey to their nests, and 
use as a lining to keep out the damp.' 

The late Colonel Sykes tells of a species of Indian ant, the Atta 
providens, so called from his having found a large store of grass-seeds 
in its nest ; he says that this insect carries seeds underground, and 
brings them again to the surface, after they have got wet during the 
monsoons, apparently to dry, thus corroborating what the ancients 
have written on this particular point. 

Tristram's note will be regarded as altogether satisfactory. He 
says : ' The ancients unanimously believed that the ant stored up 
food for winter consumption ; and who that has watched the in- 
cessant activity of these little creatures, issuing in long files from their 
subterranean labyrinths by a broad, beaten track, and gradually 
dispersing in all directions by pathways that become narrower and 
fainter as they are sub-divided and diverge, while a busy throng is 
uninterruptedly conveying back by the same paths every movable 
object which they are able to drag with their powerful forceps, would 
not at once arrive at the same conclusion ? The language of the 
Wise Man is in accordance with the universal belief; and the lessons 
of wisdom and industry are none the less forcible because the more 
accurate observation has shown that, in most countries at least, the 
stores are not husbanded for food, but for furnishing their homes. 
The language of the inspired writer must be read simply as we read 
the expressions of the sun rising and setting, explained by the dis- 
coveries of more recent astronomy. At the same time, it has not yet 
been ascertained that, in the warmer climates of the Holy Land, the 
ant is dormant throughout the winter. Among the tamarisks of the 
Dead Sea it may be seen in January actively engaged in collecting the 
aphides and saccharine exudations, in long files, passing and repassing 
up and down the trunk.' 



350 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 



Bees in a Lion's Carcase. 

JUDGES xiv. 8 : ' And after a time he returned to take her, and he turned aside 
to see the carcase of the lion ; and behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey 
m the carcase of the lion.' 

Difficulty. // is hard to believe that bees would settle inside the 
carcase of an animal. 

Explanation. Two statements have been made, either of 
which suffices to remove this difficulty. Rosenmiiller says : * If one 
were to understand this of a putrid and offensive carcase, the narra- 
tive would lose all probability, for it is well known that bees will 
not approach the dead body of either man or animal. But in the 
desert of Arabia the heat of the summer season often so dries up the 
moisture of the bodies of dead men and camels within twenty-four 
hours, that they remain a long time like mummies, unaltered and 
without offensive smell.' 

The other suggestion, however, seems more reasonable. The 
bodies of dead animals in the East are immediately attacked by 
carrion bird and beast, who swiftly remove every soft portion, and 
leave the mere bony skeleton to whiten in the sun. The skeleton 
would be a not unlikely place for a bee-hive ; and it was in the dried 
skeleton of the lion that Samson found the bees. 

Herodotus gives a story which is strikingly illustrative of this one. 
He tells of a certain Onesilas, who had been captured by the 
Amathusians, and had been beheaded, that his head, after having 
been suspended over the gates, had become occupied by a swarm of 
bees. 

In Palestine bees are abundant ; the dry recesses of the limestone 
rocks everywhere afford shelter and protection for the combs. 

Rosenmiiller quotes the authority of the physician Aldrovand for 
the story that swarms of bees built their combs between the skeletons 
of two sisters who were buried in the church of Santa Croce, at 
Verona, in 1566. 

Hugh Miller, in ' Schools and Schoolmasters,' tells the following 
story : ' A party of boys had stormed a humble-bee's nest on the side 
of the old chapel-brae, and digging inwards along the narrow winding 
earth-passage, they at length came to a grinning human skull, and 
saw the bees issuing thick from out a round hole at its base. . . . 
The wise little workers had actually formed their nest within the 
hollow of the head, once occupied by the busy brain ; and their 
spoilers, more scrupulous than Samson of old, who seems to have 



THE BEAR OF PALESTINE. 351 

enjoyed the meat brought out of the eater, and the sweetness 
extracted from the strong, left in very great consternation their honey 
all to themselves.' 

The Bear of Palestine. 

I SAMUEL xvii. 37 : ' David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out 
of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, He will deliver me 
out of the hand of this Philistine.' 

Question. Is there any evidence that the bear of Palestine was a 
special foe of the shepherds ? 

Answer. It appears to have been dreaded at particular times of 
the year. Van Lennep gives the fullest account of the habits of this 
creature. * The bear is powerful, keen-scented, sagacious, and 
cunning. He is generally harmless, and greatly terrifies people by 
the cool, unconcerned manner in which he makes his nightly calls to 
the choicest fruit-trees, even when close to an inhabited dwelling. 
The depredations of the bear are very extensive, for he not only 
consumes a vast quantity of fruit, but breaks many branches of the 
trees on which he climbs, and roughly handles other people's 
property. 

'As long as the fruit season lasts, the bear is well-behaved and 
harmless. He hides on the lofty mountains during the day, and 
comes down at night to the gardens, or orchards and vineyards, and 
skilfully avoids the snares laid for him. Honey is his favourite food, 
and he will often run considerable risks in order to gratify his greedi- 
ness for it. When winter comes, and the snow covers the lofty 
mountains which he inhabits, the bear withdraws to a cave, and 
awaits the return of spring in a dormant state. It is during the 
interval beUveen the cessation of autumnal fruits and crops, and his 
retirement to winter quarters, that he manifests his carnivorous pro- 
pensities, and becomes ferocious and aggressive even to man. He 
prowls about mountain villages, and fiercely attacks the flocks of 
goats and sheep, even in broad daylight. We remember visiting a 
village on the Anti-taurus, which the day before had suffered the 
depredations of a bear of monstrous size. He had surprised a flock 
of goats, and when attacked by the shepherds and their dogs with a 
hue and cry which brought out every villager from his hut, he had 
slowly retired, flinging stones at his pursuers with such accurate aim 
and force that severe wounds were inflicted on them. Later in the 
day he had gone boldly into the fold on the edge of the village, and 
carried off a goat, which he dragged to a hillock near by, and de- 
liberately devoured, in plain sight of the inhabitants, who, not pos- 



352 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

sessing a single gun, dared not disturb the audacious brute. He was 
pointed out to us ranging over the hills, already covered with a slight 
fall of snow ; and, watching with our spy-glass, we saw him dig up 
the remains of another goat which he had partly devoured and buried 
there. We have repeatedly known the bear at this season to fall 
upon and devour children who had strayed out but a short distance 
from the mountain villages ; and we particularly remember a Turkish 
girl about thirteen years of age, who thus lost her life on the Ak-dagh, 
near Amasia. 

' Some have supposed that the bear has not the thirst for blood 
which is characteristic of the wolf or panther. He sometimes, how- 
ever, seems quite as ferocious, and has been repeatedly known to kill 
apparently for the pleasure of it. In a certain mountain village the 
sheep were shut up in one of those stables which are partly dug out 
of the mountain side, and have a room in front built of rough stones, 
with a flat roof overhead, and a broad chimney. The door was made 
fast at evening, and the dogs, being released from duty, had sought 
refuge from the cold in their master's house. A bear came, however, 
at dead of night, and, descending by the chimney, strangled every one 
of the sheep. After gorging himself with their blood he piled their 
bodies in the wide fireplace, and climbing thereon, escaped un- 
perceived !' 

Meen gives a much less favourable account of this creature : * Con- 
cealing himself in some thicket, the bear watches his victim, then 
steals upon him in silence ; escape, either for man or beast, being 
all but impossible. Although many animals surpass it in the rapidity 
of their movements, few men are swift enough to elude him. The 
widest river, the most inaccessible rock, or the loftiest tree, offers no 
protection. His whole aspect is such as to inspire terror. Morose, 
sullen, and capricious, we fail to discover any redeeming quality 
except in its attachment to its young, which cannot be surpassed. 
The Syrian bear not only preys on animals, but also devastates the 
fields. The lion and other beasts spring on their prey with a single 
bound, but the bear has a mode of attack peculiar to itself. Stealing 
up to his victim in silence, he rises upon his hind legs, and throwing 
his horrid arms around, crushes him to death. The female is more 
formidable than the male, and on the loss of her young she is almost 
driven to madness.' 

It may be interesting to add, that the Hebrew name for the bear 
is dob, being identical with the modern Arabic name dub, a ' he-bear ;' 
dubbe, a ' she -bear.' Some writers derive the word from a Hebrew 
root, dabdb, l to walk slowly ;' but others, with more probability, refer 



A PLAGUE OF MICE. 353 

it to an Arabic root, meaning 'to be hairy;' dob being thus the 
* shaggy animal.' The name of the bear occurs on the Assyrian 
monuments ; the word phonetically is read dabu, evidently the Hebrew 
dob. 

Layard says that at the present day bears appear not to be un- 
common in the neighbourhood of Tiyari, a district north of Assyria, 
where they are very mischievous, robbing the trees of their fruit, and 
taking the fruit when laid out to dry. * These bears are probably the 
descendants of those hunted by the Assyrian monarchs more than 
2,500 years ago.' 



A Plague of Mice. 

I SAMUEL vi. 5 : ' Wherefore ye shall make images of your tumours, and images 
of your mice that mar the land ; and ye shall give glory unto the God of Israel : 
peradventure he will lighten his hand from off you, and from off your gods, and 
from off your land.' 

Difficulty. Mice are such small creatures, and so well within the 
control of man, that it is strange to find them becoming a serious 
national plague. 

Explanation. The reference here is to the field-mouse, and 
not the household mouse with which we are familiar. This class of 
animals multiplies with amazing rapidity. The field-mouse has its 
natural enemies, which keep its numbers in check. If by any cir- 
cumstances these natural enemies are removed from a district, the 
breeding proceeds with an amazing rapidity, and the creatures 
become a nuisance, and even a plague. Illustration may be found 
in the rabbit-pest of Australia, or in the destructive work of a large 
species of bat in New South Wales. As illustrating the rapidity with 
which the rodents breed, mention may be made of a farmer's 
daughter who had a pair of Norwegian rats given to her, and in 
three or four months found them increased to seventy. 

The Hebrew word 'akhbar seems to include any small destructive 
rodent, the root of the name meaning ' to bite to pieces,' or ' to 
gnaw.' * The mice that marred the land of the Philistines were pro- 
bably some kind of field-mice, of which several kinds occur at the 
present day in the Holy Land. The short-tailed field-vole, com- 
monly known as the field-mouse (Arvicola arvalis), is very common 
there, and perhaps there is not a more destructive little creature in 
existence than it. In our own country extensive injury both to 
newly-sown fields and to plantations has often been caused by this 
little agricultural pest. In the years 1813 and 1814 the ravages were 

23 



354 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

so great in the New Forest and the Forest of Dean that considerable 
alarm was felt lest the whole of the young trees in those extensive 
woods should be destroyed by them.' 

Herodotus has a curious story about the mischief that can be 
wrought by mice. When Sennacherib invaded Egypt in the time of 
Sethos, Vulcan sent a great multitude of field-mice, which devoured 
all the quivers and bows of the Assyrian army, as well as the thongs 
by which they managed their shields ; thus were the Assyrians over- 
thrown. 

Van Lennep tells of a brown rat which multiplies with such amaz- 
ing rapidity that, were it not for its numerous foes, a single pair 
would increase to nearly a thousand individuals in one year. Van 
Lennep gives an interesting account of the short-tailed field-mouse 
which abounds throughout Western Asia, and 'must be endowed 
with great powers of increase, for he has many enemies. The owl is 
after him by night, and by day the hawk, with other birds of prey, 
flutters in the sky, and comes down with a swoop, and carries him 
off to his nest, while the indefatigable little ferret creeps into his hole, 
successfully encountering him, and destroying his little ones ; yet he 
seems in no wise diminished. You see him in all the arable lands, 
running across the fields, industriously carrying off the grain to stow 
it away for winter, chirping gaily from time to time, sitting up on his 
haunches to get a good sight of you as you approach, and then sud- 
denly diving into his hole. This animal is apt so greatly to multiply 
as at times to cause a sensible diminution of the crops, and its 
ravages are more generally dreaded than those of the mole. A per- 
fectly trustworthy friend has informed us that in 1863, being on a 
farm (chiflify of an acquaintance in Western Asia Minor, he saw 
about noon the depredations committed by an immense number of 
these mice, which passed over the ground like an army of young 
locusts. Fields of standing corn and barley disappeared in an in- 
credibly short space of time, and as for vines and mulberry-trees, 
they were gnawed at the roots and speedily prostrated. The annual 
produce of a farm of one hundred and fifty acres, which promised to 
be unusually large, was thus utterly consumed, and the neighbouring 
farms suffered equally.' 

Aristotle, in his * History of Animals,' says : ' In many places mice 
are wont to appear in the fields in such unspeakable numbers that 
scarce anything is left of the whole crop. So rapidly do they con- 
sume the corn, that in some cases small farmers have observed their 
crops ripe and ready for the sickle on one day, and coming the next 
with the reapers, have found them entirely devoured.' 



CHANGED NATURE OF THE BEASTS. 355 

In 1848, it is said, the coffee-crop in Ceylon was entirely destroyed 
by mice. 

It is difficult to imagine what can become of such vast multitudes 
of creatures, and what natural agencies are employed to restore the 
proper balance and proportion of the creatures in a given district ; 
but of the possibility of a really serious ' plague of mice ' there is 
abundant evidence. 



Changed Nature of the Beasts. 

ISAIAH xi. 6 : ' The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall 
lie down with the kid ; and the calf and the young lion and the falling together, 
and a little child shall lead them.' 

Question. Is this to be taken as a literal prophecy of what shall 
one day happen ? 

Answer. There is no necessity whatever for forcing Scripture 
references in such a bald and bare way. The imagination of such a 
time sufficiently met the case of the prophet. A man's sphere of 
illustration may reasonably include what he can imagine, as well as 
what he knows. It is not conceivable that the characteristic peculi- 
arities of the animals will ever be altered. They would then become 
other animals than they are. The prophet has in mind men who 
may be represented by the wolf, the leopard, the lion, the bear, and 
the asp ; and the nature of men or rather the ^-natural condition 
of men may be changed by Divine grace. 

Bishop Wordsivorth takes this view. The ancient expositors de- 
clared their judgment that these predictions have been verified by 
the moral and spiritual change wrought in savage nations, which for- 
merly were like lions, leopards, bears, and wolves, and by the bringing 
together of hostile tribes to dwell together in peace in the Church of 
Christ, as the savage and tame creatures, the unclean and clean 
animals, dwelt together in the Ark of Noah, the type of the 
Church. 

The Speaker's Commentary, while admitting that the allegorical 
sense is the primary one, says : ' This need not exclude a real fulfil- 
ment of the prophecy in the subordinate sphere of animal life. To 
a mind which is not so enslaved by the actual facts of history that it 
dares not consider what the ideal order of nature may fairly be 
thought to demand, there is nothing unphilosophic in such an expec- 
tation. On the contrary, reason itself requires us to cherish it. The 
existence of so many creatures, in which it might almost seem that 
bad passions or tempers were embodied, is of itself a perplexing 

232 



356 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

phenomenon. It indicates an abnormal condition of the world, a 
state of temporary frustration (Rom. viii. 20) or corruption of 
nature, from which we may well believe it shall be emancipated as 
soon as the Redeemer of mankind shall have fully established His 
kingdom of righteousness. How gladly the human mind turns to 
contemplate such a change is shown by the fourth Eclogue of 
Virgil.' 

Professor Rawlinson says : ' Primarily, no doubt, the passage is 
figurative, and points to harmony among men, who, in Messiah's 
kingdom, shall no longer prey one upon another. But, from the 
highest spiritual standpoint, the figure itself becomes a reality, and 
it is seen that, if in the " new heavens and new earth " there is an 
animal creation, it will be fitting that there harmony should equally 
prevail among the inferior creation. Human sin may not have intro- 
duced rapine and violence among the beasts at least, geologists tell 
us that animals preyed one upon another long before the earth was 
the habitation of man but still, man's influence may prevail to 
eradicate the beasts' natural impulses, and educate them to some- 
thing higher.' Already domestication has done something' towards 
this end. 

The Curse on the Serpent. 

GENESIS iii. 14 : * And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast 
done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field ; upon 
thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days; of thy life.' 

Difficulty. This curse seems to imply an immediate change in the 
form, the habits, and the food of the serpent-class of creatures ; and if 
science can trace signs of a gradual change, it finds no indication of any 
sudden change. 

Explanation. It must be fully admitted that geological dis- 
coveries have proved that the serpent-form, as we know it, is anterior 
to the age of man. There were serpents on the pre-Adamic earth 
whose structure was analogous to that of the true serpents (Ophidia) 
of our day. Geological discoveries have put this as much beyond 
doubt as the fact that there were shell-fish in those primaeval 
times. 

The Ophidia range from the top of the chalk, up through the 
Tertiary group of rocks, and culminate at the top of the highest 
member of that series the Pliocene. 

Professor Owen says : * The earliest evidence of an Ophidian 
reptile has been obtained from the eocene clay of Sheppey ; it consists 
of vertebrae indicating a serpent of twelve feet in length the Palceophis 



THE CURSE ON THE SERPENT. 357 

toliapicus. Still larger, more numerous, and better-preserved vertebrae 
have been obtained from the eocene beds of Bracklesham, on which 
the species Palceophis typhaus and the Palceophts porcatus have been 
founded. These remains indicate a boa-constrictor-like snake of 
about twenty feet in length. Ophidian vertebrae of much smaller 
size, from the newer eocene at Hordwell, support the species Paleryx 
rhombifer and Paleryx depressus. Fossil vertebrae from a tertiary 
formation near Salonica have been referred to a serpent, probably 
poisonous, under the name of Laophis. A species of true viper has 
been discovered in the miocene deposits at Sansans, in the South of 
France.' 

It is said that embryo legs and feet have been found under the 
skin of serpents, indicating that they were once of a lizard type ; but 
this can only apply to some kinds, and has not been established as a 
fact concerning all serpents. 

Possibly the curse means that, henceforth, degrading and repulsive 
associations shall be in the minds of men in connection with the 
crawling or grovelling of the serpent types, and certainly there are no 
creatures which are so repulsive to man. Dean Payne mi//i seems 
to approve of this explanation : * The serpent is but the type ; 
diabolic agency the reality. First, therefore, the serpent is con- 
demned to crawl. As he is pronounced to be " cursed above " (or, 
rather, among) "all cattle" that is, the tame animals subjected to 
man's service, and also " among all beasts of the field " that is, the 
wild animals, but a term not applicable to reptiles it has been sup- 
posed that the serpent was originally erect and beautiful, and that 
Adam had even tamed serpents, and had them in his household. 
But such a transformation belongs to the region of fable, and the 
meaning is, that henceforward the serpent's crawling motion is to be 
to it a mark of disgrace, and to Satan a sign of meanness and con- 
tempt. He won the victory over our guileless first parents, and still 
he winds in and out among men, ever bringing degradation with him, 
and ever sinking with his victims into deeper abysses of shame and 
infamy.' 

The part of the curse relating apparently to the serpent's food is 
explained by Thomson in the * Land and the Book ' : ' Perhaps the 
phrase "eat dust" has a metaphorical meaning, equivalent to "bite 
the dust," which, from time immemorial, has been the favourite boast 
of the Eastern warrior over his enemy. To make him eat dust, or, 
as the Persians have it, dirt, is the most insulting threat that can be 
Uttered. In pronouncing sentence upon the serpent, we need not 
suppose that God used the identical Hebrew words which Moses 



358 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

wrote some thousands of years afterwards ; but the Jewish lawgiver 
was guided to a proverb which fully expressed the purport of that 
Divine communication. We may paraphrase it after this fashion : 
Boast not of thy triumph over a feeble woman, proud, deceitful 
spirit; you shall be overthrown and reduced to the most abject 
degradation.' 

Ayre, in his 'Treasury of Bible Knowledge,' takes the position 
which can be most wisely and hopefully held : ' There was no change 
wrought in the constitution of the serpent. Geological research has 
demonstrated the existence of serpents with serpent forms, and (we 
may conclude) with the same habits and propensities, in the earlier 
periods of the world's history. But it is not by any means a strange 
thing for a natural object to have a new significance given to it. 
Doubtless from ordinary causes the rainbow had been seen long 
before it was made the sign of God's covenant to Noah (Gen. 
ix. 12-17). The curse on Cain wrought no physical change in him 
(Gen. iv. 1 1 ). So there was no change in the physical conformation 
of the literal serpent. But the serpent's habits, trailing on its belly 
amid the dust, venomous, and loathsome to the eye of man, read to 
every age a striking lesson, and expose the tempter, whose vehicle of 
mischief it was, as cursed and to be hated. Mischief indeed he has 
done, and can still do ; he can bite the heel, but it will always be to 
the bruising and crushing of his own head. The facts of the fall, as 
narrated by the sacred historian, must not be explained away, or 
regarded as of a mythic character. Other parts of Scripture bear 
testimony to their literal truth (2 Cor. xi. 3), but yet to comprehend 
their whole significancy we must look beyond the reptile to the dark 
power who for a time identified himself with it. Hence it was that 
the serpent was feared, and thought a being to be propitiated. And 
hence that strange worship which in so many ages and so many 
lands was offered to it. It was from this well-known practice, true in 
the main, but not true in the particular instance, that part of the 
Apocryphal story of Bel and the Dragon was constructed.' 

Morning Cloud and Early Dew. 

HOSEA vi. 4 (Rev. Ver.) : ' O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee ? O Judah, 
what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the dew 
that goeth early away.' 

Question. Are there any marked peculiarities in the dew of 
Palestine which may account for the frequent allusions to it in 
Scripture ? 

Answer. The influences of the dew are not prominent in 
the minds of those who dwell in rainy countries, though its import- 



MORNING CLOUD AND EARLY DEW. 359 

ance ought always to be recognised. In Eastern lands vegetation is 
very largely dependent on it, and the dews are far more copious than 
we can imagine. In warm countries the night-dews supply the place 
of showers. 

Savary says of Egypt : ' It would be uninhabitable did not the 
nocturnal dews restore life to vegetables. These dews are so copious, 
especially in summer, that the earth is deeply soaked with them, and 
in the morning one would imagine that rain had fallen during the 
night.' 

The usual scientific explanation of the dew is as follows : ' It is 
formed during the night by a gradual deposition, on bodies rendered, 
by radiation, colder than the bodies round them, of part of the 
moisture which rises invisibly from the surface of water into the air 
during the heat of the day. In a clear night, the objects on the 
surface of the earth radiate heat to the sky through the air, which 
impedes not, while there is nothing nearer than the stars to return the 
radiation : they consequently soon become colder ; and if the air 
around has its usual load of moisture, part of this will be deposited on 
them in the form of dew, exactly as the invisible moisture in the air 
of a room is deposited on a cold glass bottle when brought into it 
from a colder place. The reason why the dew falls or is formed so 
much more copiously upon the soft spongy surface of leaves and 
flowers, where it is wanted, than on the hard surface of stone or sand, 
where it would be of no use, is the difference of their radiating powers. 
There is no state of the atmosphere in which artificial dew may not 
be made to form on a body, by sufficiently cooling it, and the degree 
of heat at which the dew begins to appear is called the dew-point. 
In cloudy nights, heat is radiated back from the clouds ; and, the 
earth below being not so much cooled, the dew is scanty or de- 
ficient.' 

Dr. Duns, explaining the relation of the dew to Gideon's fleece, 
remarks : ' It is a curious fact that wool is one of the substances best 
fitted for the reception of moisture in the form of dew. The metals 
are least so. Gideon was led to choose a substance on which the 
sign sought for would be most distinctly marked. It is not neces- 
sary here to seek to establish that the phenomena described were 
miraculous. They served as a sign ; this was the only purpose for 
which they were regulated. By a few simple experiments the appear- 
ances which met the eye of Gideon can be produced. The point of 
the narrative is, that by the arrangement of Him in whose hands are 
all the forces of nature, the phenomena for which His servants looked 
were produced at the time and in the circumstances determined on 



360 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

by Him, without any artificial interferences thereto. Gideon had 
noticed that in nature, when dew was formed, all the articles in the 
same area became covered with it. Let there then be an exception 
to this let the fleece be wet, and all the earth around dry. It was 
so. Again, let the earth be wet and the fleece dry. " And God did 
so that night : for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew 
on all the ground." In the one case, the sky needed to be clouded 
except at the point which looked down on the fleece ; in the other, it 
needed to be all clear except above the fleece. Thus though natural 
means might be used in producing the effect, these were so guided as 
to shut Gideon up to the direct acknowledgment of God's interfer- 
ence in making the phenomena a sign.' 

One of the freshest things in Dr. Geikie's ' Holy Land and Bible ' 
is his explanation of the causes of dew in Palestine. Writing of the 
melon-growing district of Palestine, he says : * The secret of this 
luxuriant fertility lies in the rich supply of moisture afforded by the 
sea winds which blow inland each night, and water the face of the 
whole land. There is no dew, properly so called, in Palestine, for 
there is no moisture in the hot summer air to be chilled into dew- 
drops by the coolness of the night, as in a climate like ours. From 
May till October rain is unknown, the sun shining with unclouded 
brightness day after day. The heat becomes intense, the ground 
hard ; and vegetation would perish but for the moist west winds that 
come each night from the sea. The bright skies cause the heat of 
the day to radiate very quickly into space, so that the nights are as 
cold as the day is the reverse : a peculiarity of climate from which 
poor Jacob suffered, thousands of years ago, for he, too, speaks of " the 
drought consuming him by day, and the cold by night." To this 
coldness of the night air the indispensable watering of all plant life is 
due. The winds, loaded with moisture, are robbed of it as they pass 
over the land, the cold air condensing it into drops of water, which 
fall in a gracious rain of mist on every thirsty blade. In the morning 
the fog thus created rests like a sea over the plains, and far up the 
sides of the hills, which raise their heads above it like so many islands. 
At sunrise, however, the scene speedily changes. By the kindling light 
the mist is transformed into vast snow-white clouds, which presently 
break into separate masses, and rise up the mountain-sides, to dis- 
appear in the blue above, dissipated by the increasing heat. These 
are the " morning clouds and the early dew that go away " of which 
Hosea speaks so touchingly. Anyone standing at sunrise on a 
vantage-ground in Jerusalem, or on the Mount of Olives, and looking 
down towards the Dead Sea, must have seen how the masses of 



ANCIENT GIANT RA CES. 36 1 

billowy vapour, filling the valleys during the night, sway and break 
up when the light streams on them from over the mountains of Moab, 
their shape and colour changing each moment before the kindling 
warmth as they rose from the hollows of the landscape, and then up 
the slopes of the hills, till they passed in opal or snowy brightness 
into the upper air, and at last faded into the unclouded sky.' 



SUB-SECTION V. 
DIFFICULTIES RELATED TO ETHNOLOGY AND ARCHEOLOGY. 



Ancient Giant Races. 

GENESIS vi. 4 : ' There were giants in the earth in those days.' 

Difficulty. // is strange that ?w traces of the existences of what 
we understand by giant races have ever been found in any part of the 
world. 

Explanation. Families of unusual height, size, and strength 
have been found in every age, and in almost every country, but the 
general average of height, size, and strength has been preserved in 
all races. The variations from the tallest to the shortest have been 
but slight. ' So far as research has gone, ancient tombs, mummies, 
armour, etc., give evidence that from the earliest historic ages, the 
ordinary size of the human race has been nearly the same. But the 
existence of Certain tall tribes is neither incredible nor improbable : 
indeed, we know on the surest evidence that, according to climate, 
there is a variety in the sizes of men ; the natives of the extreme 
north, as the Laplanders and Esquimaux, being diminutive, while 
those of other regions the Patagonians, for example, and other 
tribes of South America though not so gigantic as they were once 
represented, are remarkably tall. Tallness of stature is often found 
to run in families ; and there are plenty of examples within modern 
memory of individuals attaining the extraordinary height of seven or 
even eight feet.' 

The term giants as applied to the antediluvians seems to refer to 
character rather than to bodily size. They were a fierce and de- 
praved race, who had filled the earth with violence. 

The allusions made to the Anakim, Emim, Rephaim, etc., indicate 
the fear of the Israelites, which led them to exaggerate the bodily 



362 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

size and strength of their enemies. In fact, overgrown giants are not 
to be greatly feared, for they are usually unwieldy, clumsy, and dull- 
brained, as was Goliath of Gath. The literature of the nations con- 
stantly records how the quick-witted overcome the big-bodied, as in 
our own stories of ' Jack the Giant-Killer,' and Abbe Hue's story of 
the ' Giant of Efe.' 

There is good reason, based on the measurement of the mummies, 
to believe that the average stature of the Egyptians was five and a 
half feet ; and, to them, anything over six feet would seem to be 
gigantic. It should also be noticed that, though the height of some 
individuals is given in cubits, the size of the cubit varied, and it is 
impossible to decide, in any given case, which standard was used. 

Referring to Goliath, Ishbi-benob, etc., Dr. Geikie says : * These 
colossal warriors seem to have been the last of their race, which we 
do not need to conceive of as all gigantic, but only as noted for 
boasting some extra tall men among a people famous for their stature. 
The Goths in old times were spoken of in the same way by their 
contemporaries as a race of giants, but though they were huge com- 
pared with the populations they invaded, giants were a very rare 
exception among them, as among other nations.' 

The word 'giants,' in Gen. vi. 4, means ' the distinguished ' (Tuc/i), 
* invaders ' (Keil\ ' tyrants ' (Luther], ' fallen ones,' ' apostates ' 
(DditzscK). They were powerful men, and doers of violent deeds. 

Dr. Duns notices that 'two classes are referred to : (i) the giants 
(Nephilim) " There were giants in the earth in those days " ; (2) 
the mighty ones (Gibborini) "The same became mighty men which 
were of old, men of renown." The statement that there were giants 
is complete in itself. Having been told this, we are next informed 
that those were mighty men. They were thus both Nephilim and 
Gibborim both giants and other strong ones. The giants are not 
affirmed to have been born of the daughters of men who had been 
united to the sons of God. The " strong ones " were their children. 
There is no necessity, either from the tenor of this verse or from the 
use of the word in other portions of Scripture, for holding that these 
" strong ones " were " giants." The same word occurs in the singular 
in Isaiah iii. 2, where it points to eminence as a military leader, and 
to a type of heroism which is well illustrated by the great captains of 
modern times. In them the qualities of greatness are moral and 
intellectual ; they do not consist in personal strength and physical 
prowess. The expression which follows indicates men of the latter 
stamp " the mighty man (the hero) and the man of war (the man of 
personal strength)." It thus appears that the Nephilim were men of 



ANCIENT GIANT RACES. 363 

great stature, distinguished, because of well-marked bodily features, 
by the name " giants." Scripture usage is clear on this matter. The 
report of the men who were sent by Moses to spy out the land of 
Canaan concluded with the words, "And there we saw the giants 
(the Nephilim\ the sons of Anak, which come of the giants (the 
Nephilim) ; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so 
were we in their sight" (Num. xiii. 35). The way in which the 
giants are introduced in the sacred narrative suggests that they were 
regarded as the wonders of their time, and as comparatively rare 
among the families of men. The ordinary size of men seems to 
have been much the same in all time. That this was undoubtedly 
the case during the earliest periods of history, is seen from the tombs 
of Egypt And there is no countenance given here to the popular 
impression that all the men in antediluvian times were giants. 
That there were, in those ancient times before the flood, men of 
a gigantic size and strength, is a thing very credible, both from later 
instances in historians both sacred and profane, and modern instances 
in our own times. But we must not conclude from this, as some 
have done, that mankind in general were, in the first ages, of a much 
larger stature than they are at present ; though the number of giants 
seems to have been much greater before the flood than afterwards.' 

Calvin says : ' I class myself on the side of those who think that 
these giants were so called because, like a tempest or hurricane 
which ravages the fields, and destroys the crops, these brigands, by 
means of their perpetual invasions, spread through the world devasta- 
tion and carnage. Moses did not say that they were of extraordinary 
physical stature, but only that they were corporally very robust.' 

The author of the ' Explication du Livre de la Genese ' says : 
' They were not, perhaps, all of an enormous height or size . . . but 
they were all, as the Scripture describes them, full of confidence in 
their strength, their prowess, their training, and their skill in every 
exercise of the body, but making no account of judgment, learning, 
piety, or justice.' 

The Origin of Woman. 

GENESIS ii. 21, 22 : 'And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the 
man, and he slept ; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead 
thereof: and the rib, which the Lord God had taken from the man, made he a 
woman and brought her unto the man.' 

Difficulty. If this is strictly descriptive, it would seem reasonable 
to expect that man should /lave, on one side of his body, a rib less than 
woman. 

Explanation. Early legends are wrongly treated when they 



364 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

are regarded as descriptive or historical. They embody the poetry 
of the ages to which they belong ; and this legend preserves, in a 
poetic form, the facts that woman as well as man is the immediate 
creation of God, and that God gave woman to be man's helpmeet. 

There have been very curious traditions preserved which relate to 
the origin of woman ; and science appears to have discovered some 
very curious facts bearing on the subject. 

It should first be noticed, as entirely removing the difficulty con- 
nected with the rib, that the word should be translated ' side,' and the 
sentence should read, ' The side he built up into a woman.' It is, 
however, no more easy for us to conceive of man's side being made 
into a woman, than man's rib. 

The form in which the origin of woman is given to us in the early 
legend has suggested the idea that man and woman were originally 
united in one body, till the Creator separated them. But though we 
do find stamens and pistils the two forms necessary to ordinary 
vegetable generation on the same tree or flower, there are neither 
geological nor existent animals in which the male and female prin- 
ciples are combined. 

The scientific notion is best represented by Darwin, who, in his 
second book, showed that ' man is developed like other animals from 
an ovule or egg about the one hundred and twenty-fifth part of an 
inch in diameter ; in embryo he bears the closest resemblance to 
other embryonic forms ; he has rudimentary muscles, like those 
which twitch the skin of horses ; he has even the faint survival of a 
point to his ears and the genuine remnant of a tail. These and 
other details rank him merely as one of the Quadrumana (four- 
handed animals), and afford him a position among the primates, 
which include all the apes and monkeys. It is even possible to go 
further, and assign him a place among the Catarhine (downward 
nostril), and not among the Platyrhine (broad nostril) apes, on 
account of the character of his nose and teeth, and,- as the former 
are confined to the Old World, and the latter to the New, to conclude 
that he first assumed his final characteristics in the eastern hemi- 
sphere, perhaps in Africa. In tracing his development to this 
position, we may believe that all the Quadrumana were derived from 
an ancient marsupial animal (i.e., one with a pouch like the kan- 
garoo), and this through a long line of diversified forms, from some 
creature dwelling half on land and half in water, and this again from 
some fish-like animal.' ' In the dim obscurity of the past we can see 
that the early progenitors of all the Vertebrata must have been an 
aquatic animal, provided with branchiae' (gills, of which the faint 



THE ORIGIN OF WOMAN. 365 

trace in his embryo are the last surviving proof in man), ' with the 
two sexes united in the same individual, and with most organs of the 
body (such as the brain and heart) imperfectly or not at all de- 
veloped.' 

The Talmud declares, in the Bereshith rabba, that Adam was 
created at once male and female. There is a Babylonian legend of 
the creation, which makes the present world of living creatures be 
preceded by a world of biform monsters with two faces. ' Suppose 
then that the first being formed was a double being, both male and 
female in one, what we have recorded in Gen. ii. 21-23 would be the 
separation of the two into distinct beings, or the removal of the one 
from the other's "side." ' 

The following legends were related by Persian Brahmins to a 
traveller named John Marshall, in the early part of last century. 
Once on a time, as (God) was set in eternity, it came into His mind 
to make something, and, immediately, no sooner had He thought the 
same, but that the same minute was a perfect beautiful woman 
present immediately before Him, which He called Adea Suktee, that 
is, the first woman. Then this figure put into His mind the figure 
af a man, which He had no sooner conceived in His mind, but that he 
also started up, and represented himself before Him ; this He called 
Manapuise, that is, the first man ; then, upon a reflection of these 
;hings, He resolved further to create several places for them to abide 
n, and accordingly assuming a subtil body, He breathed in a 
minute the whole universe, and everything therein, from the least to 
he greatest.' 

4 The Brahmins of Persia tell long stories of a great giant that was 
ed into a most delicate garden, which, upon certain conditions, 
,hould be his own for ever. But one evening, in a cool shade, one 
)f the wicked devotas, or spirits, came to him and tempted him with 
ast sums of gold, and all the most precious jewels that can be 
magined; but he courageously withstood that temptation, as not 
mowing what value or use they were of. But at length this wicked 
Devota brought to him a fair woman, who so charmed him that, for 
icr sake, he most willingly broke all his conditions, and thereupon 
/as turned out.' 

There is an ancient Persian legend of the first man and woman 
;hich is very singular. Their names are given as Meschia and 
Weschiane, and they lived for a long time happily together : they 
unted together, and discovered fire, and made an axe, and with it 
uilt a hut. But no sooner had they thus set up housekeeping than 
ley fought terribly, and, after wounding each other, parted. It is 



366 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

not said which remained master of the hut, but we learn that afte; 
. fifty years of divorce they were reunited.' 

Many Rabbis imagined that Adam and Eve were originally createc 
with one body between them, and they curiously conceived that th( 
two heads were turned back to back, Eve being afterwards separated 
and presented to Adam as his wife. Lenormant gets over the diffi 
culty by a satisfactory suggestion, if it can be duly supported. H< 
thinks the Hebrew text means that Eve was formed at Adam's side 
not from it. Delitzsch does not think Adam was double sexed 
He says : * To speak generally, the form of Adam was without sex 
In its most refined nature Adam had the sexual contrast in himself 
With its going forth from the unity of his personality, there neces 
sarily connected itself that configuration which was demanded for th< 
then commencing sexual life.' 

The South Sea Islanders say that 'the first man, who had pre 
viously been a stone, thought one day he would make a woman 
He collected the light earth on the surface of the ground in the forn 
of a human body, with head, arms, and legs. He then plucked ou 
one of his left ribs and thrust it into the breast of his earth-mode" 
Instantly the earth became alive, and up starts a woman. He calle* 
her fvi, which is their word for " rib." ' 

Joseph's Land Scheme. 

GENESIS xlvii. 20 : ' And Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh 
for the Egyptians sold every man his field, because the famine prevailed over them 
so the land became Pharaoh's.' 

Difficulty. According to modern ideas, Joseph secured the indt 
pendence of the crown at the cost of the liberties and natural rights o 
the people. 

Explanation. All political devices have to be considered i; 
view of the special circumstances of the nation with which they ar 
concerned. The sovereignty of the people is entirely a moderr 
civilized, and Western notion. The prevailing idea throughout th 
world has been that peoples exist for the sake of their rulers, an 
even in Western lands it is difficult to get the better idea fully estal 
lished that rulers exist for the sake of the people. 

It is curious, however, to notice that the modern socialistic movt 
ments tend in the direction of Joseph's scheme, and propose the r< 
sumption of land by the State, the removal of all private ownershi 
of land, and the division of the country in the interests of the peopk 

The special circumstances of Egypt in Joseph's time may parti 
explain his scheme, and show it to have been good statesmanship 



JOSEPH'S LAND SCHEME. 367 

If 'a foreign dynasty was ruling, Joseph's plan tended to give it fixity. 
But we may look for the real explanation of his scheme in the need 
for securing the country against possible recurrence of famine. The 
improvident people would never store their grain in any efficient way, 
but the universal tax which Joseph secured sufficed both for the 
royal and national expenditure, and for the full furnishing of the 
great national store-cities and granaries. 

That Joseph's was a familiar Eastern scheme is shown by the con- 
dition of Egypt recently under Mehemet AH. By an edict he appro- 
priated the whole country to himself, so that Egypt became as much 
the property of its ruler as it was in the days of Joseph. The people 
were not turned out of their possessions, except when it pleased the 
Pasha to take the land under his own care. In that case the fellah 
was not permitted to seek some other residence, but had to remain 
as a labourer in the Pasha's service. Two-thirds of the rental went 
to the government as taxes. 

It is now generally assumed that the Pharaoh under whom Joseph 
served was Apepi, the last shepherd (Hyksos) king, and prede- 
cessor of Aahmes, who, after a long and severe struggle, expelled the 
Hyksos, and re-established in Egypt the rule of a native dynasty. 

Lange says : * This proceeding of Joseph, reducing the Egyptians 
in their great necessity to a state of entire dependence on Pharaoh, 
has been made the ground of severe reproach, and, indeed, it does 
look strange at first. The promotion of earthly welfare, and of a 
comfortable existence, cannot excuse a theocratic personage in bring- 
ing a free people into the condition of servants.' Lange thinks 
Joseph did not act in an arbitrary manner, and that he could not be 
expected to advise Pharaoh from the points of view of modern con- 
stitutional governments. Professor Tayler Lewis, in a note to Lange, 
says : ' All this difficulty about Joseph's proceeding vanishes when 
one studiously considers what the Egyptians would have done, or 
how fatal their free improvidence might have proved, without his 
sagacious political economy. There would have been no cattle to 
be sold, the lands would have been barren for the want of hands to 
till them. Each one for himself, without a common weal, and a 
wise ruler taking care of it, and taxing them for such care, there 
would not have been, in their future prospects, any stimulus to 
frugality or industry. It is yet an unsettled question whether un- 
regulated individual cultivation of land in small portions, or a judi- 
cious system of landlordism, for which, of course, there must be rent 
or tax, is the better method for the universal good. The 20 per 
cent, which Joseph exacted for the government care was not a 



368 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

system of slavery, and it may have been far better than a much 
greater percentage, perhaps, to capitalists and usurers.' To this 
should be added that the proportion of a fifth enabled the govern- 
ment to secure stores of food against possible famine times, as is now 
done, to some extent, in China. 

Kitto gives a hearty approval of Joseph's scheme, and adds : * The 
Scripture, as usual, records the proceedings without passing any 
judgment upon them ; and considering the influences by which he 
was surrounded, and the age and the circumstances in which he 
lived, it would be surprising indeed to find all his proceedings con- 
formable to modern European notions of political justice. It would 
be enough to find that his measures were such as would in his own 
age be considered just and wise, and if in any point his ideas were 
in advance of his age, he is entitled to the greater credit, for we can- 
not rightly expect more from him than the spirit of his own age 
demanded.' 

We may sum up the matter by saying that ' the change effected by 
Joseph in the tenure of the lands could only have been necessary if 
it were the policy of the king to secure his throne. Joseph bought 
up the goods and lands of the people, and let them out again at the 
fixed rent of one-fifth of the produce. He thus made the people 
directly dependent on the king, taking away from them all their 
rights of personal liberty and property. The priesthood were 
exempted from this arrangement, possibly because they were too 
strong a body, and exercised too wide an influence, to permit such 
interference with their liberties. It is very easy to see how Joseph's 
device was in the interests of the king, but very difficult to see that it 
could be a blessing for the people.' 

NOTE. The Speaker's Commentary gives the illustrations of 
Joseph's scheme that are found in Herodotus, Diodorus, Strabo, 
and the monuments : ' Herodotus says that Sesostris divided the 
soil among the inhabitants, assigning square plots of land of equal 
size to all, and obtained his revenue from a rent paid annually by 
the holders. Diodorus says that Sesoosis divided the whole country 
into thirty-six nomes, and set nomarchs over each to take care of the 
royal revenue, and administer their respective provinces. Strabo 
tells us that the occupiers of land held it subject to a rent. Again, 
Diodorus represents the land as possessed only by the priests, the 
king, and the warriors, which testimony is confirmed by the sculptures. 
The discrepancy of this from the account in Genesis is apparent in 
the silence of the latter concerning the lands assigned to the warrior 



JOSEPH'S LAND SCHEME. 369 

caste. The reservation of their lands to the priests is expressly men- 
tioned in Gen. xlvii. 22, but nothing is said of the warriors. There 
was, however, a marked difference in the tenure of lands by the 
warriors from that by the priests. Herodotus says that each warrior 
had assigned to him twelve arurce. of land (each arura being a square 
of TOO Egyptian cubits) that is to say, there were no landed posses- 
sions vested in the caste, but certain fixed portions assigned to each 
person, and these, as given by the sovereign's will, so apparently 
were liable to be withheld or taken away by the same will ; for we 
find that Sethos, the contemporary of Sennacherib, and therefore of 
Hezekiah and Isaiah, actually deprived the warriors of these lands, 
which former kings had conceded to them. It is, therefore, as 
Knobel remarks, highly probable that the original reservation of 
their lands was only to the priests, and that the warrior caste did 
not come into possession of their twelve arurce each till after the 
time of Joseph.' 

' It may be a question whether the division of the land into thirty- 
six nomes and into square plots of equal size by Sesostris be the 
same transaction as the purchasing and restoring of the land by 
Joseph. The people were already in possession of their property 
when Joseph bought it, and they received it again on condition of 
paying a fifth of the produce as rent. But whether or not this act 
of Sesostris be identified with that of Joseph (or the Pharaoh of 
Joseph), the profane historians and the monuments completely bear 
out the testimony of the author of Genesis as to the condition of 
land tenure, and its origin in an exercise of the sovereign's 
authority.' 

Who was there to find Cain ? 

GENESIS iv. 14 : ' And I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond ' (wanderer) ' in the 
earth : and it shall come to pass that every one that findeth me shall slay me.' 

Difficulty. This exclamation of Cain's appears to assume the 
recognised existence of other races besides that of Adam. 

Explanation. It is quite certain that Cain would not fear his 
own descendants, and it is equally clear that the descendants of Seth 
(who was, however, born later than this) were not scattered over the 
earth so as to meet Cain in his wanderings, and avenge the blood of 
Abel. We seem to be shut up to two suggestions. Abel may have 
left a family, and it would keep the idea of blood-revenge. Or Adam 
may have had other children besides those mentioned in the Bible. 
Some would go further than these suggestions, and assume the exist- 
ence of other races, with other human parentage than Adam's. 

24 



370 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

Delitzsch gets over the difficulty too easily. * It is clear that the 
blood-avengers whom Cain feared must be those who should exist in 
the future, when his father's family had become enlarged and spread 
abroad; for that the murderer should be punished with death (we 
might even say that the taking vengeance for blood is the fountain of 
regulated law and right respecting murder) is a righteous sentence 
written in any man's breast ; and that Cain already sees the earth 
full of avengers is just the way of the murderer who sees himself on 
all sides surrounded by avenging spirits, and feels himself subjected 
to their tormentings.' 

Lange thinks that Cain knew nothing about the outside world, and 
only imagined that there might be in it human beings like himself. 
' To the lawless, vindictive Cain, nothing would be more natural 
than the thought that, somewhere in the unknown waste, there might 
be beings like himself, who might be as malignant to himself as he 
had been to his slain brother.' 

The Speaker's Commentary thinks we need not suppose Cain, Abel, 
and Seth, to have been the only sons of Adam. ' Indeed, from 
Gen. v. 4, " And he begat sons and daughters," we infer that there 
were others. Cain, Abel, and Seth are mentioned for obvious 
reasons : Abel for his piety and his early death ; Cain for his wicked- 
ness, and the worldly wisdom of his posterity ; Seth because he was 
the ancestor of the promised seed. There may, then, in 130 years, 
have grown up a very considerable number of children and grand- 
children to Adam and Eve. An Eastern tradition assigns to them 
no less than thirty-three sons and twenty-seven daughters.' 

Dr. Geikie imagines the ' expulsion from Eden to have been an 
event so distant, that children born to Adam, or perhaps even to his 
children, had grown into manhood, and a community had gradually 
been formed. A band from this fled with the banished one to Nod, 
the land of exile, and there the insecurity of their position led to the 
first gathering into town life.' 

Dean Payne Smith gives two opinions. Some ' say that Adam's 
creation was not identical with Gen. i. 27, but was that of the highest 
type of the human race, and had been preceded by the production of 
inferior races, of whose existence there are wide-spread proofs. But 
others, with more probability, think that Cain's was a vain appre- 
hension. How could he know that Adam and his family were the 
sole inhabitants of the earth ? Naturally he expected to find farther 
on what he had left behind ; a man and woman with stalwart sons ; 
and that these, regarding him as an interloper come to rob them, and 
seeing in his ways proofs of guilt, would at once attack and slay him.' 



SOWS OF GOD AND DAUGHTERS OF MEN. 371 
Sons of God and Daughters of Men. 

GENESIS vi. i, 2 : 'And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the 
face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw 
the daughters of men that they were fair ; and they took them wives of all which 
they chose.' 

Difficulty. The distinction between i sons of God' and '"daughters 
of men ' is only found in this connection^ so we are left to guess what 
can be meant by these terms. 

Explanation. No certainty can be attained on this subject, 
but a reasonable solution of the difficulty may be suggested. There 
does not seem to be any ground for the notion that the ' sons of 
God' were 'angels,' or beings from other worlds. Poetry has 
imagined the love of angels for the fair daughters of earth, as in 
Thomas Moore's ' Loves of the Angels.' And legends have gathered 
round the early records, some of which have been preserved to our 
time in the * Book of Enoch,' which was probably written many years 
before the birth of Christ. A portion of one legend may be given : 
' It happened after the sons of men had multiplied in those days that 
daughters were born to them, elegant and beautiful. And when the 
angels (the sons of heaven) beheld them, they became enamoured of 
them, saying to each other, " Come, let us select for ourselves wives 
from the progeny of men." . . . Then their leader, Samyaza, said 
to them, " I fear that you may perhaps be indisposed to the per- 
formance of this enterprise, and that I alone shall suffer for so 
grievous a crime." But they answered him, and said : " We all 
swear, and bind ourselves by mutual execrations, that we will not 
change our intention, but execute our projected undertaking." Then 
they all swore together, and bound themselves by mutual execrations. 
Their whole number was two hundred, who descended upon Ardis, 
which is the top of Mount Armon (query Hermon). . . . These 
were the names of their chiefs : Samyaza was their leader ; Uraka- 
barameel, Akibeel, Tamiel, Ramnel, Danel, Azkeel, Sarakuyal, Asael, 
Armers, Batraal, Anane, Zavebe, Samsaveel, Ertael, Zurel, Yomyael,. 
Arazyal. These were the prefects of the two hundred angels, and 
the remainder were all with them. Then they took wives, each 
choosing for himself . . . teaching them sorcery, incantations, and 
the dividing of roots and trees. . . . And the women brought forth 
giants. . . . These devoured all which the labour of men produced, 
until it became impossible to feed them, when they turned them- 
selves against men, in order to devour them ; and began to injure 
birds, beasts, reptiles, fishes, to eat their flesh one after another, and 
to drink their blood.' 

242 



372 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

As no mention of angels is made in the chapters of Genesis 
previous to the sixth, it is not proper to introduce our later ideas of 
angels in order to explain this term * sons of God.' It is better to 
seek in the earlier legends a key to the meaning of the phrase. The 
reference to cherubim, in Gen. iii. 24, does not at all help us. 

What is clear from the early records is, that there were two distinct 
races on the earth, and that in the Divine idea these two races were 
to keep distinct and separate, each fulfilling its mission on strictly its 
own lines. The Cainite race, outside the special covenant, working 
out its destiny in merely human wisdom and strength ; and the 
Sethite race, within the special covenant, working out its destiny in 
the Divine leading and inspiration. Confusion arose when bodily 
passion overmastered the lines of separation, and produced a mingled 
race, which was neither in strictly human, nor in strictly Divine 
leadings. 

It is remarkable that the commingling should be spoken of as an 
approach of Sethite men to Cainite women ; but no hint is given of 
any approach of Cainite men to Sethite women. This may, however, 
only mean that Scripture is concerned with the doings of the Sethite 
race, and introduces the Cainites only so far as they are brought into 
direct association with the Sethites. Sethite women marrying Cainite 
men would be lost to the covenant race. 

Probably the generally received ideas on this subject are traceable 
to the remarks of Josephns, who says : 'The posterity of Seth were 
perverted, and forsook the practices of their forefathers, and did 
neither pay those honours to God which were appointed them, nor 
had they any concern to do justice towards men. But for what zeal 
they had formerly shown for virtue, they now showed by their actions 
a double degree of wickedness, whereby they made God to be their 
enemy ; for many angels of God accompanied with women, and 
begat sons that proved unjust, and despisers of all that was good, on 
account of the confidence they had in their own strength, for the 
tradition is that these men did what resembled the acts of those 
whom the Greeks call giants.' 

Some have suggested that there was another race of men on the 
earth contemporary with the Adamites, whose history has no place in 
the Bible. But it is not necessary to make such a supposition, if the 
distinction between the Cainites and the Sethites will meet all the 
requirements of the case. This suggestion is presented in a fourfold 
form : (i) We have historical evidence of the existence of a race of 
idolaters alongside of the Adamic race. (2) The apostasy, which 
was then all but universal, consisted in the daughters of the Adamites 



SOWS OF GOD AND DAUGHTERS OF MEN. 373 

forming marriage relationships with a race of idolaters already 
accursed. (3) The flood was sent upon the descendants of Adam, 
and those with whom they had contracted marriages ; the other 
idolaters are not to be held as swept away by the deluge. (4) The 
Anakim of the days of Moses were the descendants of the Nephilim, 
or giants, of the time of Noah. 

Others have suggested that the ' sons of God ' were men of high 
rank, who married a number of wives from the lower ranks, thus 
extending polygamy and its evils. But there is no ground for such 
a notion, which anticipates the later formal divisions of society. 

Dr. Porter says : * The difficulties disappear when we interpret the 
narrative in its natural connection, keeping clearly before us the 
scope of the context. The scope may be embodied in the following 
propositions : (i) The human family is traced through two distinct 
lines ; the line of the outcast Cain, and that of the elect Seth. (2) 
Seth was recognised by his parents as a special gift from God (Gen. 
iv. 25) ; and, according to Oriental idiom, he was therefore a son of 
God. Cain, on the other hand, " went out from the presence of God " 
(Gen. iv. 1 6). His aspirations were all human ; and, according to 
the same idiom, he was a son of man. (3) In the line of Seth the 
worship of God was kept up. His fatherhood ', so to speak, was 
acknowledged (Gen. iv. 26 ; v. 24). In the line of Cain, God's 
paternal care and government appear to have been almost wholly 
ignored.' 

Canaanites not Native Races of Palestine. 

EXODUS iii. 8 : ' Unto the place of the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the 
Amorite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite.' 

Question. How came these petty kingdoms to be established in 
Palestine ? 

Answer. It is important to observe that they had no natural 
rights in the land, and were conquerors holding possession on condi- 
tion of good behaviour, just as truly as the Israelites were in later 
times. There is consequently no real difference between the 
Canaanites being subjugated and turned out by the Israelites when 
' the cup of their iniquity was full,' and the Israelites being subju- 
gated and turned out by the Assyrians and Babylonians when ' the 
cup of their iniquity was full.' 

So far as we can gather, the aborigines of Palestine are represented 
by the Anakim, Rephaim, Emim, Horites, etc., of whom relics were 
left in the land. 

Ewald gives careful attention to this subject : * The first inquiry 



374 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

naturally refers to the aborigines, tribes of whose immigration the 
later inhabitants retained neither proof nor even the faintest recollec- 
tion. Before their subjugation or expulsion by other victorious 
invaders, these aborigines may have passed through many stages of 
fortune, forgotten as layer after layer of population flowed over this 
lowest and broadest stratum. Total expulsion, however, can rarely 
have befallen the original inhabitants upon a strip of coast like Pales- 
tine, the exit from whence was not easy to a settled population, 
whether on account of the great attractions of its soil, or because its 
boundaries were formed by deserts, seas, the easily-defended fords of 
the Jordan, and the mountain glens of the north. We are, therefore, 
justified in assuming that many relics of the primitive inhabitants 
must have been spared. For us, indeed, all such traces are almost 
erased, because the Israelitish invasion belonged to a later time, 
when the earlier strata of population were so intermixed that it was 
no longer easy always to discriminate the earlier and the later inhabi- 
tants. 

1 That in the very earliest age, long before the ancient migrations 
into Egypt (that is, long before the time of the Hyksos), a more 
homogeneous group of nations established themselves in this land is 
not only probable from the general relations among nations, but to 
be inferred also from more definite indications. A change in the 
name of a country, such as Seir, Edom, or Esau, itself points to the 
successive rule of three distinct nations, whose chronological sequence 
we can in this case distinguish with certainty. What these names 
prove to have happened to the land on the south-eastern border of 
the Holy Land, and is more easy of demonstration in that instance, 
is evidently true of other cases occurring within the land itself. 
Further, all the nations which were settled in the land in historical 
times, some of which are known even from Biblical testimony to 
have come in from foreign parts, though differing widely in other 
respects, possessed a Semitic language, of which, amid considerable 
dialectic varieties, the fundamental elements were closely related. 
Now this is not conceivable, unless one original nation, possessing a 
distinctly-marked character, had lived there, perhaps for a thousand 
years before the immigration of others, to whose language after- 
comers had more or less to conform. This original nation, more- 
over, doubtless had its peculiar ideas, religious ceremonies, and 
customs, which more or less powerfully influenced subsequent immi- 
grants ; as the worship of the horned Astarte is known to have 
existed here from the earliest ages, and quite independently of the 
later Phoenicians.' (See Ashteroth Karnaim, Gen. xiv. 5.) 



CANAANITES NOT NATIVES OF PALESTINE. 375 

At the time of the Israelite occupation these aborigines had for 
many centuries been so completely subjugated, dispersed, and ground 
down, that but few remains of them were still visible. But then the 
immigrants were so various, so divided, and in some points even so 
weak, that it must have been very difficult to comprise such 
numerous and disconnected nations under one fitting appellation. 
The Israelites called them Canaanites, Amorites, or otherwise, 
according as one or other of them seemed the more important at 
the time, or they preferred to name several together. When a nation 
had been long resident in the land, no one thought of investigating 
the antiquity of its settlement there. So much the more remarkable 
is it that some few tribes are nevertheless described in the Old Testa- 
ment as 'ancient inhabitants of the land.' This declaration is the 
more impartial and weighty because quite incidental. The nations 
thus described are very small and scattered tribes, but on this 
account the more likely to be the remains of the aboriginal inhabi- 
tants. 

In the northern and more fruitful portions of the land, on this side 
Jordan, the aborigines must have been very early completely sub- 
jugated by the Canaanites, and blended with them, as not even a 
distant allusion to them is anywhere to be found. The case is 
different with the country beyond the Jordan, especially towards the 
south. Here we come upon the traces of a people, strangers alike 
to the Hebrews and their cognate tribes, and to the Canaanites, who 
maintained some degree of independence until after the Mosaic age 
the Horites (dwellers in caves, Troglodytes) in the cavernous land 
of Edom, or Seir. 

At the time of the Israelitish conquest, as we learn from some per- 
fectly reliable accounts, there still existed many remains of the 
aborigines scattered through the land. They were then ordinarily 
designated by a name which suggests very different ideas Rephaim 
or giants. A part of the population, which from its locality can 
hardly be anything else than the Rephaim, is very curiously also 
called by a perfectly distinct name Amorites. Again, in the south- 
west of the land we find other traces of aborigines ; possibly the 
Amalekites must be classed among them. And there was a district 
about Joppa, called Geshur, which was occupied by the Avvites, or 
Avvim. And in David's reign there was another small kingdom of 
the same name, Geshur, at the very opposite point, on the north-east, 
on the other side Jordan, and distinguished by the epithet Aramczan, 
as being surrounded by tribes speaking Aramaic. It is clear from 
all these signs that there was here a primitive people which once 



376 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

extended over the whole land of the Jordan to the left, and to the 
Euphrates on the right, and to the Red Sea on the south ; and that, 
as in many districts it was still disputing dominion with the Canaan- 
ites, it was completely subjugated only by the fresh incursion of the 
Hebrews under Moses. There can be no doubt that they were of 
Semitic origin. 

Professor Wilkins names the aboriginal tribes the Rephaim, the 
Zanzummim, the Emim, and the Anakim. 



Preservation of Species in the Ark. 

GENESIS vi. 19 : 'And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt 
thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee : they shall be male and 
female.' 

Difficulty. No single erection could possibly contain specimens of 
all the kinds of creatures now upon the earth. 

Explanation. If the Flood was strictly local, though vastly 
extensive, it is evident that only the animals inhabiting the particular 
region affected would need to be preserved, and these would be 
within reasonable limitations. Some living creatures would exist 
beyond the reach of the Flood, some would migrate for the time into 
safe districts, and some would not be permanently injured by pro- 
longed submersion. And it may also be recognised that the primary 
forms were comparatively few, the existing varieties being largely the 
result of developments under differing conditions of climate, food, 
etc. 

Dr. Geikie summarizes the difficulties of assuming that representa- 
tives of all kinds of creatures were found in Noah's Ark : ' Nor is it 
possible to conceive of an assemblage of all the living creatures of 
the different regions of the earth at any one spot. The unique fauna 
of Australia survivors of a former geological age certainly could 
neither have reached the Ark nor regained their home after leaving 
it ; for they are separated from the nearest continuous land by vast 
breadths of ocean. The Polar bear surely could not survive a 
journey from his native icebergs to the sultry plains of Mesopotamia ; 
nor could the animals of South America have reached them except 
by travelling the whole length, northwards, of North America, and 
then, after miraculously crossing Behring's Straits, having pressed 
westwards across the whole breadth of Asia a continent larger than 
the moon. That even a deer should accomplish such a pedestrian 
teat is inconceivable, but how could a sloth have done it a creature 
which lives in trees, never, if possible, descending to the ground, and 



PRESERVATION OF SPECIES IN THE ARK. 377 

able to advance on it only by the slowest and most painful motions ? 
Or how could tropical creatures find supplies of food in passing 
through such a variety of climates, and over vast spaces of hideous 
desert ? Still more, how could any vessel, however large, have held 
pairs and sevens of all the creatures on earth, with food for a year, 
and how could the whole family of Noah have attended to them ? 
There are at least 2,000 mammals, more than 7,000 kinds of birds, 
from the gigantic ostrich to the humming-bird, and over 1,500 kinds 
of amphibious animals and reptiles, not to speak of 120,000 kinds of 
insects, and an unknown multitude of varieties of infusoria. Nor 
does this include the many thousand kinds of mollusca, radiata, and 
fish. Even if the Ark, as has been supposed by one writer, was of 
80,000 tons burden, such a freightage needs only be mentioned to 
make it be felt impossible. Look which way we like, gigantic diffi- 
culties meet us. Thus, Hugh Miller has noticed that it would have 
required a continuous miracle to keep alive the fish for whom the 
Deluge water was unsuitable, while even spawn would perish if kept 
unhatched for a whole year, as that of many fish must have been. 
Nor would the vegetable world have fared better than the animal, 
for of the 100,000 known species of plants, very few would survive 
a year's submersion.' 

Dean Payne Smith remarks that 'the terms are conditioned by 
the usual rules for the interpretation of the language of Holy Scrip- 
ture, and by the internal necessities of the event itself. Thus the 
animals in the Ark could not have been more in number than four 
men and four women could attend to. Next, the .terms exclude the 
carnivora. Not only was there no supply of animals taken on board 
to feed them, but half-tamed as they would have been by a year's 
sojourn in the Ark, they would have remained in Noah's neighbour- 
hood, and very soon have destroyed all the cattle which had been 
saved, especially as far and wide no other living creatures would have 
existed for their food/ 

The distinction made between * clean ' and * unclean ' suggests the 
two classes of what may be called domestic creatures those which 
serve man for food, and those which serve man for labour ; but the 
raven, as a flesh-eating bird, suggests a wider selection than from the 
domestic circle only. Van Lennep, however, speaks of the raven, or 
crow, as being closely related to the dwellings of men ; and this bird 
may therefore have come into the class of domestic animals with 
which Noah was familiar. It is the only reference that can possibly 
suggest the preservation of what we call the wild animals. If we 
understand that Noah preserved in the Ark the defenceless animals 



3 ?8 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

belonging to the domestic circle, we can abundantly fill his Ark, 
especially if food for so long a time as twelve months be duly taken 
into account. 

Inglis observes that 'the carrying capabilities of the Ark have 
been over-estimated from forgetting that by far the greater portion of 
it was occupied with fodder and provisions. But to contain the 
immense number of different species of animals, the progenitors of 
those scattered from the north to the south pole, numbering many 
thousands, with a year's provisions, would have required a fleet of 
arks. Besides, from Gen. ix. 10 we learn that there were beasts on 
the earth after the Flood which had not come out of the Ark : " From 
all that go out of the Ark to every beast of the earth." ' 

On this latter sentence the Speaker's Commentary says : ' From it 
we can hardly fail to infer that the destruction of the lower animals 
was confined to a certain district, and not general throughout the earth.' 
The distinct species found in any one particular district would be 
strictly limited in number. 



The Syrian Origin of the Israelites. 

DEUTERONOMY xxvi. 5 (Rev. Ver.} : 'And thou shalt answer and say before 
the Lord thy God, A Syrian ready to perish was my father, and he went down 
into Egypt, and sojourned there, few in number ; and he became there a nation, 
great, mighty, and populous.' 

Difficulty. The term Syrian must surely be used here in a very 
comprehensive sense. 

Explanation. The margin of the Revised Version gives for 
'Syrian,' 'Aramaean'; and for 'ready to perish,' 'wandering,' or 
'lost.' 

The reference is not to Abraham, the first father of the race, but to 
Jacob, who was looked upon as the second father. 

Bishop Wordsworth translates the Hebrew words, ' an Aramaean 
perishing,' and thinks the reference is to Jacob, who served in danger 
and distress with Laban the Syrian (Gen. xxv. 20) for twenty years, 
and whose wives and children were from Padan-Aram (Gen. xxviii. 5 ; 
xxxi. 38-42). Israel may fairly be called an Aramaean because of his 
long sojourn there ; and the sons of Israel were actually Syrian- 
born. 

The term Syrian, or Aramaean, was an extensive one, and it might 
have been fairly used even of Abraham. We distinguish between 
Syria and Assyria, but the empire of Assyria was founded later, and 
includes portions of the Syrian territory. 



THE SYRIAN ORIGIN OF THE ISRAELITES. 379 

Aram, meaning 'Highlander,' was one of the sons of Shem, who, 
by his descendants, colonised the fertile country north of Babylonia, 
called Aram-Naharaim, or 'Aram between the two rivers,' the 
Euphrates and the Tigris, the country being thence denominated 
Mesopotamia by the Greeks, and sometimes by the Hebrews Padan- 
Aram, * the level country of Aram,' or the * upland plain.' In 
Scripture Aram is generally rendered Syria, that is Syria east of 
Lebanon. The Grecian name Syria is of doubtful origin, but is 
possibly connected with the root tsur, 'rock,' from which also comes 
Tyre. The 'highland' is part of the lofty and extensive chain of 
mountains known as Lebanon. 

Assyria is to be distinguished from Syria, whose southern boun-. 
dary was the land of Israel, and whose capital was Damascus. 
Assyria was the country east of the Tigris, bounded on the north by 
Armenia, east by Media, and south by Susiana and Chaldsea. 

It would be therefore correct to speak of the Chaldaean origin of 
Abraham, and the Syrian origin of Jacob's family. Jacob was born 
in Palestine, but his independent start, as the head of a family, was 
made from Syria (Padan-Aram). 

It need only further be observed that, in a comprehensive way, 
even Palestine may be included in the general term Syria. 

Weeds and Thorns following on Man's Culture. 

GENESIS iii. 18 : 'Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee.' 

Question. Can we trace the natural way in which this Divine 
curse has been, and is constantly being, fulfilled ? 

Answer. Nature, left alone, preserves a perfect balance. If 
anything tends to grow or develop unduly, the restraining forces at 
once correspondingly increase. But man's toil interferes with Nature's 
arrangements, and disturbs the natural balance. The culture which 
develops the corn, develops the weeds which grow among the 
corn. The folly that shoots the birds, gives unchecked chance to 
the worm and caterpillar on which they feed. Man's self-will is a 
disturbance of the Divine order; but it may be but a material 
disability, which is permitted as working towards a higher moral 
good. Man is to gain virtue out of a struggle with the universe, 
which his self-will has disturbed. 

Hugh Macmillan illustrates this point with singular felicity. ' It is 
a remarkable circumstance that whenever man cultivates Nature, and 
then abandons her to her own unaided energies, the result is far 
worse than if he had never attempted to improve her at all. There 



380 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

are no such thorns found in a state of Nature as those produced by 
the ground which man has once tilled, but has now deserted. In the 
waste clearings amid the fern brakes of New Zealand, and in the 
primeval forests of Canada, thorns may now be seen which were 
unknown there before. The nettle and the thistle follow man 
wherever he goes, and remain as perpetual witnesses of his presence, 
even though he departs; and around the cold hearthstone of the 
ruined shieling on the Highland moor, and on the threshold of the 
crumbling log-hut in the Australian bush, these social plants may be 
seen growing, forming a singular contrast to the vegetation around 
them. 

' No country in the world, now that it has been so long left out of 
cultivation, has such a variety and abundance of thorny plants as the 
once favoured heritage of God's people, the land flowing with milk 
and honey. Travellers call the Holy Land " the land of thorns." 
Giant thistles, growing to the height of a man on horseback, frequently 
spread over regions once rich and fruitful, as they do on the pampas 
of South America ; and many of the most interesting historic spots 
and ruins are rendered almost inaccessible by thickets of fiercely- 
armed buck-thorns. Entire fields are covered with the troublesome 
creeping stems of the spinous Orionis, or rest-harrow, while the bare 
hillsides are studded with the dangerous capsules of the Paliurus 
and Tribulus. Roses of the most prickly kinds abound on the lower 
slopes of Hermon, while the sub-tropical valleys of Judaea are choked 
up in many places by the thorny Lycium^ whose lilac flowers and 
scarlet fruit cannot be plucked, owing to erect branches armed at all 
points with spines. The feathery tree of the Zizyphus spina Christi^ 
or Christ's thorn, that fringe the banks of the Jordan, and flourish on 
the marshy borders of the Lake of Gennesaret, are beautiful to look 
at, but terrible to handle, concealing as they do under each of the 
small delicately formed leaves of a brilliant green, a thorn curved like 
a fish-hook, which grasps and tears everything that touches it. Dr. 
Tristram mentions that, in passing through thorny thickets near 
Jericho, the clothes of his whole party were torn to rags. ... In 
short, thorny plants, the evidences of a degenerate flora, and of 
deteriorated physical conditions, now form the most conspicuous 
vegetation of Palestine, and supply abundant mournful proof of the 
literal fulfilment of prophecy : " Upon the land of my people shall 
come up thorns and briars ; yea, upon all the houses of joy in the 
joyous city." ' 

Lange explains that ' in their ground type, thorns and thistles 
must have existed before ; but it is now the tendency of Nature to 



MINING ALLUSIONS IN JOB. 381 

favour the ignoble forms rather than the noble, the lower rather than 
the higher, the weed rather than the herb. In place of the ennobling 
tendency which would produce a fruit-tree or a rose-bush out of a 
thorn-shrub, or that wonderful flower of the cactus out of the thistle, 
there comes in a tendency to wildness or degeneracy which trans- 
forms the herb into a weed. The sickliness of nature : a falling back 
upon its subordinate stages, as a punishment of man for his contra- 
natural falling back into a demoniacal, bestial behaviour. Here now, 
along with the thorns and thistles, there is, at the same time, the 
positive opposition of nature to man. In place of the garden-culture, 
there is introduced not agriculture simply, but an agriculture which 
is. at the same time, a strife with a resisting nature, and in place of 
the fruit of paradise, is man now directed to the fruit of thj field.' 



Mining Allusions in Job. 

JOB xxviii. i, 2 (Rev. Ver.) : ' Surely there is a mine for silver, and a place for 
gold which they refine. Iron is taken out of the earth ' (or dust) ' and brass is 
molten out of the stone.' 

Question. Does not such knowledge of mining operations prove 
the Solomo?iic date of the Book of Job ? 

Answer. Though it is now known that mines were worked in 
Sinai at least a thousand years before the time assigned to Job, there 
were gold-mines in Egypt, and silver was brought from the far East by 
Phoenician merchants, yet it seems inconceivable that an Arab sheikh, 
such as we assume Job to have been, could have been so intimately 
acquainted with mining matters as to have written in such detail, 
and with such precision, about them. Too much cannot, indeed, 
be made of this argument ; it is only fair to infer that the Solomonic 
associations with mining and metals amply supply the materials found 
in this remarkable chapter of Job. It seems more to the point to 
show that mining was early carried on in the districts of the Hauran, 
and in Lebanon, and that Solomon was in a very special sense inter- 
ested in the useful and the precious metals. 

The Speaker's Commentary very cautiously deals with this question : 
* A great chieftain, whose camels were doubtless employed in trans- 
porting the productions of various regions, would have had oppor- 
tunities such as few Israelites, save in the age of Solomon, could have 
enjoyed of exploring the excavations, and watching the ingenious 
processes by which the metals were prepared for the use of man. 
The local colouring altogether belongs to Idumaea, the Peninsula of 
Arabia, or to Egypt, certainly not to Palestine.' 



382 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

As the principal metals are mentioned in the early Scriptures, it is 
certain that men must have, early in the human history, found out 
how to trace them, and how to separate them from surrounding earth 
by such processes as washing and burning. Gold is mentioned in 
Gen. ii. 1 1, 12, silver in Gen. xiii. 2, iron in Gen. iv. 22, copper in Gen. 
iv. 22 this metal, when hardened by some alloy, is known as brass 
lead in Exod. xv. 10. 'The Hebrews were acquainted with the 
principal metals, but they drew their supplies mainly from other 
countries, specially by means of Phoenician commerce. The mineral 
wealth of Syria and Palestine seems to have been less developed than 
that of districts so near as the Sinaitic Peninsula.' 

Delitzsch points out that the author's information on mining sub- 
jects could have been equally well obtained through knowledge of 
Egypt and Sinai, or through knowledge of the Hauran district, which 
is probably the place of Job's residence. Delitzsch has collected so 
much interesting information that much of his note may be given to 
our readers : ' The ruins of mines found show that the Sinaitic Penin- 
sula has been worked as a mining district from the earliest times. 
The first of these mining districts is the Wady Nasb, where Lepsius 
found traces of old smelting-places, and where also Graul and his 
companions, having their attention drawn to it by Wilkinson's work, 
searched for the remains of a mine, and found at least traces of 
copper slag, but could see nothing more. A second mining district 
is denoted by the ruins of a temple of Hathor, on the steep terrace 
of the rising ground Sarbut-el-chadim, which stretches out into a 
spacious valley. This field of ruins, with its many lofty columns 
within the still recognisable area of a temple and round about it, 
gives the impression of a large burying-ground. . . . Tischendorf 
describes the wild terrific-looking copper rocks that lay around in 
their varied shades, now light, now dark. That these copper rocks 
were worked in ancient days is proved by the large black heaps of 
slag which Lepsius discovered to the east and west of the temple. 
The remains of a mine discovered by J. Wilson at the eastern end of 
the north side of the Wadi Mucatteb also belongs to this copper 
country ; they lie near the road, but in back gorges ; there is a very 
high wall or rock of granite or porphyry, which is penetrated by dark 
seams of metal which have been worked out from above downwards, 
thus forming artificial caverns, pits, and shafts ; and it may be in- 
ferred that the yield of ore was very abundant, and, from the sim- 
plicity of the manner of working, that it is of very great antiquity. 
This art of mining thus laid open, as Ritter says, furnishes the most 



MINING ALLUSIONS IN JOB. 383 

mportant explanation of Job's remarkable description of mining 
operations. 

'As to Egypt itself, it has but few places where iron ore was 
obtained, and it was not very plentiful, as iron occurs much more 
'arely than bronze on the tombs, although Wilkinson has observed 
mportant copper-mines almost as extensive as the copper country of 
Sinai ; we only, however, possess more exact information concerning 
:he gold-mines on the borders of Upper Egypt. Diodorus gives a 
ninute description of them, from which it is evident that mining in 
chose days was much the same as it was with us about a hundred 
years ago ; we recognise in it the day and night relays, the structure 
of shafts, the crushing and washing apparatus, and the smelting- 
place. 

* But if the scene of the Book of Job is to be sought in Idumsea 
proper (GeMt), or in Hauran, there were certainly mines that were 
nearer than the Egyptian. In Phunon, between Petra and Zoar, there 
were pits from which copper was obtained even in the time of Moses, 
as may be inferred from the fact of Moses having erected a brazen 
serpent there. But Edrisi also knew of gold and silver mines in the 
mountains of Edom, and there were also such mines in Arabia 
Petraea. Traces of former copper-mines are still found on the 
Lebanon ; Edrisi was acquainted with the existence of a rich 
iron-mine near Beirut ; and, even in the present day, the Jews 
who dwell in Deir-el-Kamar^ on the Lebanon, work the iron on 
leases, and especially forge horse-shoes from it, which are sent all 
over Palestine. 

' The poet of the Book of Job might, therefore, have learned mining 
in its diversified modes of operation from his own observation, both 
in the Kingdom of Egypt, which he had doubtless visited, and also 
in Arabia Petraea and in the Lebanon districts, so as to be able to 
put a description of them into the mouth of his hero.' 

A curious and interesting discovery was made in the mines of 
Midian, after minute explorations, by Mr. Keast Lord. The veins of 
metal had been worked by stone tools exclusively, many of which 
Mr. Lord brought away with him. This alone would suffice to prove 
how ancient mining operations are. 

Dr. Geikie quotes, from Agatharcides^ an interesting description 
of the old life and toil at the gold-mines. (' Hours with Bible,' 
vol. ii., pp. 229, 230.) 



384 HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES. 

The Book of the Wars of the Lord. 

NUMBERS xxi. 14 : * Wherefore it is said in the book of the wars of the Lord.' 

Question. Can we suppose that in the Mosaic period written his- 
torical records were made and preserved ? Does not this assume too 
advanced civilization for the people and the period 1 } 

Answer. Nothing whatever is known about this book. There 
can only be suppositions concerning it. There is no absolute reason 
for thinking the book was in existence at the time of the events 
narrated in it. The reference seems to be made as a kind of confir- 
mation, or proof, of the statement made by the writer, or possibly by 
some later editor. 

There is other reason for thinking that a book of heroic poems 
was gradually compiled, which might include Moses' Song at the 
Red Sea, and general historical reminiscences. It is now quite 
understood that the art of writing long preceded Moses, and the 
keeping of chronicles of great historical events would be learned by 
Moses in his Egyptian education. There is nothing unreasonable 
in assuming that the man who devoted himself to the organiza- 
tion of a nation would provide for a systematic record of historical 
events. 

The Speaker's Commentary says : ' It was apparently a collection 
of sacred odes commemorative of that triumphal progress of God's 
people which this chapter records. From it is taken the ensuing 
fragment of ancient poetry relating to the passage of the Arnon, and 
probably also the Song of the Well, and the Ode on the Conquest of 
the Kingdom of Sihon. The allusion to this book cannot supply 
any valid argument against the Mosaic authorship of Numbers, for 
it may be quite consistently allowed that Moses availed himself in 
some cases of pre-existing materials, and combined in his narrative 
the results of information obtained from others. . . . Nor is there 
any reason to believe that Moses wrote at one time the whole of 
what he may have himself contributed to this book. On the con- 
trary, it seems in part to be composed out of memoranda, originally 
made at intervals ranging over thirty-eight years. ... It is likely, 
indeed, that this book, as others, underwent, after it left the hands of 
its composer, a revision, or perhaps more than one revision, in which 
here and there later eleme